Issue #13– April 21, 2009
CA Spotlight: Nice and Easy with Joelle!
Since her second year at RIT, Joelle Kirsch has been an active participant in Residence Life. From her role as a Resident Assistant (RA), to a Peer Advocate (PA) at the RIT Inn, and now a Community Advocate (CA) for University Commons, Joelle has established herself as a leader amongst her peers and generously has used her time to create some successful programs for RIT residents. She’s not here to get anyone in trouble; she’s here to help!
Interviewer: Why did you decide to get involved with Residence Life?
Joelle: I love meeting new people. When I was an RA I would always meet people from the incoming class. I can also meet people outside of my major.
Interviewer: When you were an RA, what was a common theme you had to address with residents?
Joelle: Every year had its own personality. My first year had a lot of noise complaints. Another year had a lot of alcohol issues and another year no one would come out of their rooms. So it was something different each year.
Interviewer: Did you find that residents responded well to your presence? Programs?
Joelle: My first year was hard because I was younger than some of my residents so it was hard to be an authority figure. I got along the best I could. Then I polled residents and asked them for suggestions. The only way I would get a response was to find out what they wanted to do.
Interviewer: How is your experience as a CA different from your role as an RA?
Joelle: As a CA people appreciate your presence. It is your job that students know their rights. As an RA, you’re more identified with Public Safety because students see you as getting them in trouble.
Interviewer: Why do you feel the CA role is important?
Joelle: It is good to have someone check in on you. For example, if students have health issues, the CAs come by and check in. It’s good to have someone available who can inform you of your rights and tell you what’s going on in any situation. It’s also nice to know you have someone to turn to in difficult situations.
Interviewer: What do you think is the most effective part of the CA position?
Joelle: The outreaches, especially health outreaches are important. They know that we care and want them to get the help they need.
Interviewer: If you could tell your residents one think about Residence Life what would it be?
Joelle: We’re not here to get you in trouble.
Interviewer: What are some skills you have adapted in this position?
Joelle: I have become a good mentor. Making cold contacts and introducing myself to new people has become easier. I also learned a lot about all the facilities and resources on campus.
Interviewer: If you could give some advice to someone thinking about getting involved with Residence Life what would that be?
Joelle: Talk to people in the positions. It is a very tight knit group of people and you have guaranteed friends.
Interviewer: What is your major?
Joelle: Mechanical Engineering with a concentration in Bioengineering. I am getting a Bachelor of Science and a Masters of Engineering.
Interviewer: Are you able to apply any skills from Residence Life to your major or vice versa?
Joelle: The classes are very multidisciplinary. They help me learn to relate to a lot of people, just like the CA job.
Interviewer: What are some of your other involvements here at RIT?
Joelle: I’m involved with the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). We do a lot of outreaches to high school and middle school students and talk to them about the field. We attend national conferences and hold programs on campus for students. I’m also a part of Women in Engineering (WE), which is purely outreaching to pre-college female students by introducing them to engineering.
Interviewer: What would you change about your CA role?
Joelle: I wouldn’t change a thing!
Interviewer: What has been your most successful or meaningful program in your CA role?
Joelle: The voter registration last fall was a great program. We registered more than 50 students around election time.
Interviewer: Why did you choose RIT?
Joelle: RIT has a great co-op program. I did three quarters in a row of corporate co-ops and one quarter of an on-campus research co-op. I worked for a Johnson & Johnson company called McNeil in Philadelphia, PA and GE Healthcare out in Waukesha, WI.
Interviewer: What are your plans for next year?
Joelle: I will be in graduate school. I plan to get my PhD in Physiology at the University of Rochester.
Interviewer: Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Joelle: Hopefully I’ll be married with a family and working at a job that I love.
For more articles from this issue, click here