Issue #14– October 16, 2009
Student Staff Spotlight: Community Advocate Jessica Diehl
Jessica is serving as a Community Advocate for a third year and specifically works with residents in the Colony Manor complex. She is a third year School Psychology graduate student, and hails from Pittsford, NY.
Interviewer: What made you decide to pursue your master’s degree at RIT? Where did you do your undergrad and why did you choose School Psychology?
Jessica: I did my undergrad at the State University of New York at Geneseo. I went from an education major to a psychology major there and knew I always wanted to work in a school but wondered what I could do with a psych degree in a school. I knew I wanted to be either a school counselor or a school psychologist, and I did undergraduate internships in both to decide which I liked better. I liked what school psychologists do and started to research graduate level programs. I’m originally from the Rochester area, so I was drawn to RIT because I have family and friends here in town. After meeting with the School Psychology faculty at RIT, I knew it was the place for me.
Interviewer: What has been the toughest thing about RIT from a student perspective?
Jessica: I would have to say the quarter system. Coming from an undergraduate college that ran on the semester system, it was a big adjustment for me. I like the fast pace, though, and it made the last 2 years fly by. Midterms and finals creep up quickly, though, and it was really important to stay on top of my work. I think it’s probably an easier adjustment for incoming freshmen who have never attended a semester-based university.
Interviewer: You have been working in Residence Life at RIT for three years now - what do you like most about being a Community Advocate?
Jessica: I like the interaction with residents and getting to meet new people. It’s a really rewarding position and I like feeling like I make a difference in residents’ lives, even if it’s just in a small way. I am glad residents feel they can email me with a question or a problem. I also like programming; it’s a great way for me to meet residents and for them to meet each other. We’re always looking for good programming ideas, so if you have any requests, send them my way!
Interviewer: How did you become interested in Residence Life?
Jessica: I actually heard about the CA position through another school psych student who was in her first year when I was applying to the program. She told me all about it, and it sounded like a job I would really enjoy. I had never worked in Res Life prior to coming to RIT, and I really enjoy the people I’ve meet, both co-workers and students.
Interviewer: What do you feel is the most important contribution the Community Advocates make to RIT or their residents?
Jessica: I would have to say empowering students to become autonomous members of a shared community. It’s our job to support students and advocate for them, but also to provide them with the tools and resources to advocate for themselves. College can be a bit of a bubble, and students really need to learn to advocate on their own behalf to become successful in communities outside of on-campus apartments. We support them in dealing with their roommate and neighbor conflicts, issues with teachers and parents, academic issues, and conduct issues, but we don’t solve their problems for them. We hope with enough support, they can feel empowered and confident in dealing with what life throws at them.
Interviewer: What is a random fact about yourself that no one could guess?
Jessica: I LOVE Auntie Anne’s soft pretzels from the mall. If I go to the mall hungry, I can’t resist buying one. Sometimes I go just to get one! They’re just so delicious.
Interviewer: Your hometown is Pittsford, NY - what do you like best about Rochester?
Jessica: I love the change of seasons, but I could do with the summer being a bit longer and the winter being a bit shorter :-) I really like how easy it is to get around. There’s a lot to do for it being a mid-size city. I love that if you drive 15 minutes in one direction you end up in the city, and 15 minutes in the other direction takes you to the country. There are a lot of festivals in the summer, and lots to do year round. I don’t think people fully appreciate what Rochester has to offer, there’s a ton to do you just have to take advantage of it.
Interviewer: What has been your favorite program that you have been involved with for your residents?
Jessica: A few years back we did a trip to Bristol Mountain to ski for a day. I love to ski, so I think that has been my favorite. I also have enjoyed the ice cream socials and barbeques that we’ve done; it’s a great way to meet a ton of residents in a short amount of time.
Interviewer: What unique characteristic do you possess that helps with your Community Advocate job performance?
Jessica: I think that I’m approachable and I’m a good listener, which makes people feel like they can come to me with issues that they’re having. I’m not afraid to talk to people I don’t know, and I truly enjoy having conversations and getting to know residents.
Interviewer: What do you want to accomplish once you graduate?
Jessica: I’d love to get a job!! The job market is tough for everyone right now, so that’s my biggest goal. Eventually I’ll probably go back to school to get my administration certification. I’d love to be an assistant principal or principal some day. This is my 7th year of college, and although it will feel good when I’m done in May, I don’t see myself staying away for too long.
Interviewer: If you could share anything with your residents about Residence Life - what would it be?
Jessica: We’re here for YOU. We aren’t here to get you in trouble or make life difficult. Our main goal is to support you, so if there’s anything we could do to make your experience in the apartments better, feel free to approach us. We can’t work magic, and we can’t solve your problems for you, but we can give you options and help you sort through them. I love meeting residents, so if I haven’t met you, shoot me an email or say hi at a program. We’re all in this together, because CAs live in the apartments and are students too, so most of the time we know what you’re going through and we’re dealing with the same issues.
If you would like to contact Jessica, her Residence Life email is email@example.com.
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