Sophomore Scott McDonald, a resident advisor at Tucker Hall, advises a student during move-in weekend.

On the front line

August 14, 2011

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Academic counselor. Social coordinator. Therapist. Disciplinarian.

As students return to campus at NC State during Wolfpack Welcome Week 2011, resident advisors are among the first people they will meet. And those RAs wear as many hats as anyone on a college campus.

Sophomores Scott McDonald and Blake Valentine, first-time RAs at Tucker Hall, pulled on their RA caps Friday, Aug. 12. They spent much of that first day distributing keys and directing students to their dorm rooms.

Over the next year, they and the 205 other RAs on campus will counsel homesick students, build communities in their dormitories and on-campus apartments, mediate conflicts, and enforce University Housing policies, among myriad other tasks.

RAs are “the front line to residents,” said Susan Grant, director of University Housing. And while they perform a vital service for the university and its students, they also gain a great deal from their work, she added.

“While the RAs assist others, they are also growing and developing their own skills — in leadership, problem solving, planning and collaboration,” she said. “Employers look for students who have been RAs when they’re searching for new staff because they possess advanced people skills from the experiences that the job affords.”

Sophomore resident advisor Blake Valentine reviews room assignments at Tucker Hall.

Nearly 60 percent of the RAs at NC State are serving as resident advisors for the first time. While just getting their first tastes of life as resident advisors, McDonald and Valentine have both benefited from the help of committed RAs themselves. As a freshman, Valentine took an RA’s advice and sought math help from NC State’s Undergraduate Tutorial Center.

McDonald said he sought an RA’s advice on how to help a friend who was struggling with a personal issue. He sees helping freshmen adjust academically as an important function for an RA.

“It’s such a different environment than they’re used to in high school,” he said. “They come here and it’s really hard to adjust when you’ve had a 30-person class where the teacher knows your name and you’re going into an 80-person class where they might not know your name.”

Valentine said he sees bringing students together as one of his most important jobs.

“My RAs helped get me out there and introduced me to a lot of people, and I went to a lot of activities,” said Valentine, a biology major from Lansing, Mich. “I figured I could do the same for some other freshmen.”

Meet the Pack Day Photo Gallery

Photo Gallery

The new Carter-Finley jumbo TV screen welcomes NC State fans to Meet the Pack. As a thunderstorm delays Meet the Pack Day activities, cheerleaders gather under ths stands before the crowd enters Carter-Finley. An equipment manager adjusts a display jersey before the crowd enter Carter-Finley for Meet the Pack. Cheerleaders prepare to meet their adoring fans at Meet the Pack at Carter-Finley Stadium. Stack of 'State' autograph books available for Meet the Pack Day. Thunderstorms may havae delayed the start of Meet the Pack Day, but the rain itself did keep the fans from waiting in line for autographs. Faithful Wolfpack fans roam the Carter-Finley concourse for autographs despite the rainy conditions. A player with the North Raleigh Bulldogs looks up to a Wolfpack player as he waits for an autograph. Wolfpack Football t-shirt gets some autograph love at Meet the Pack Day. A very young Wolfpack fan hugs her Ms. Wuf doll as she watches the real Ms. Wuf sign autographs just a few feet away. Mr. and Ms. Wuf greet their fans and sign autographs during Meet the Pack Day at Carter-Finley Stadium. Fans line up for autographs. Wide receiver Jay Smith signs a helmet for an adoring fan. Safety Brandon Bishop signs the shirt of a young Wolfpack fan. Coach Tom O'Brien autographs a football for fans. A mom captures the moment of when her son met Coach Tom O'Brien. Wolfpack fans patiently wait their turn for player autographs. Kicker Niklas Sade signs a helmet for a fan. Offensive tackle Tyson Chandler gives a young fan a lift for a photo op at Meet the Pack Day. Athletics Director Debbie Yow chats with Wolfpack fans in the crowd at Carter-Finley. T.J. Graham signs a helmet while the young fan wears it proudly. A Wolfpack football helmet gets fully endorsed by the NC State players. A future Wolfpack cheerleader hitches a ride from Dad as she waits to get player autographs. Mike Glennon and the other quarterbacks sign autographs for the fans at Meet the Pack Day. Wolfpack starting quarterback Mike Glennon signs a football for a fan. A young Wolfpack fan proudly shows off the autograph she just got from players at Meet the Pack Day (And yes, that is a pink jersey). A young Wolfpack fan smiles behind the camera as she takes a photo of a friend and player Jay Smith at Meet the Pack Day (And yes Crowd of NC State football fans wait their turn to get autographs from the quarterbacks. Safety Earl Wolff poses with fans during Meet the Pack Day.