Issue #16– April 20, 2010
Student Staff Spotlight: Dan Smith – Colony Manor Community Advocate
Interviewer: You’re a Community Advocate in Colony Manor, but you’re not an RIT student –can you share with us the story of how you’ve come to work at RIT?
Dan: When I was accepted as a student at Canisius College in Buffalo I participated in a job hunt for assistantships in the Buffalo area and after I had finished the interview process I got an e-mail from the director or my program telling me about the opportunities here at RIT. I thought I was a long shot candidate when I applied because I was from Canisius and I was not affiliated with RIT. After a couple of very good interviews I was offered the position here and I was excited to take it, but literally hours after getting the offer here I received an offer in Buffalo. It was a tough decision to take the position here because it is so far away from Canisius, but I defiantly made the right choice!
Interviewer: Why did you want to work here?
Dan: I wanted to work here because I recognized the uniqueness of the RIT community and I really thought it would be a great opportunity to get a new set of experiences and challenges. I came from a small school in New Hampshire so I had never experienced college on this level before!
Interviewer: You were a Resident Assistant (RA) as an undergrad. How is that different from being a Community Advocate (CA)?
Dan: It is very different as a CA from being an RA. For one it is a different school so there was a major learning curve for school policy and places on campus, so training was a big help! But in terms of differences between the jobs, I’d say the biggest is the fact that as a CA you are really set up to be a resource for the residents. Sometimes as an RA I would get type cast into the “enforcer” role and not seen as a community resources and advocate, which was difficult. Being a CA has enabled me to present myself as an advocate for students needs.
Interviewer: What do you enjoy most about being a Community Advocate?
Dan: The thing I enjoy most are the residents. I have met a ton of people through this position and each one of them is incredibly unique and interesting. RIT students have a way of doing things that is very much their own and it has astounded me the type of creativity that come from the students.
Interviewer: What are some skills you have gained in this position?
Dan: Well the first skill I have gained was a rudimentary knowledge of ASL and an introduction to a whole new culture. Another skill I have really refined is being ready for anything. RIT is a big campus with a ton of great people, but I have learned that anything can happen and you need to be ready when it does!
Interviewer: What has been the most challenging aspect of being a Community Advocate?
Dan: I think the most challenging aspect of being a CA is trying to reach out to everyone. The Apartment area is a great place to live and be independent, but it can be challenging to get students to participate in programs.
Interviewer: What would you like to accomplish while you’re here?
Dan: I would really like to get a weekly basketball or volleyball game going with my residents and during the winter a weekly board game night!
Interviewer: Do you have any advice for RIT students living in the apartments after working on campus for the past nine months?
Dan: LOCK YOUR DOORS and don’t ever just say, “come on in” when someone knocks on the door. I have seen, not just here, people get stuff stolen or invite strangers into their apartment and it could be avoided by simply locking your door. Also please remember that CA’s and Residence Life are here to help you. We can help you with a ton of things from referring you to offices on-campus to helping you through roommate conflicts. One of the things that I see all the time is students who wait till the last minute to deal with an issue and usually by that time, there is not a lot we can do because the issue has escalated too far. Lastly, please e-mail your CA’s back when you get an e-mail from them. We are trying to connect with you and it is nice when we get responses to e-mails!
Interviewer: What do you like to do for fun?
Dan: In general I find my job fun, but when I need to relax and get away I like to be with friends. It really doesn’t matter what we are doing, just hanging out with people is fun. More specifically, I enjoy playing board games and video games.
Interviewer: What is a random fact about yourself that no one could guess?
Dan: Hmm…. Well I try to be an open book, but I guess something that people might not guess right off the bat is that I am a very shy person. I typically seem to be outgoing and I am to a point, but left alone in a room full of strangers I would probably wait for someone to talk to me rather than introduce myself around.
Interviewer: Your hometown is Swanzey, NH - what do you like best about the city of Rochester?
Dan: Well, for those who do not know, Swanzey is a small town of less than 8,000 in the southwestern corner of NH and living there all my life has accustomed me to rural America. That said I was worried that RIT and Rochester would be too big for me, but it has been absolutely perfect. RIT is positioned nicely out of range from the city, but still close enough to everything that it is not a hassle! I think that this is the perfect location for me!
Interviewer: What are your plans for next year?
Dan: I plan to have some more fun next year, This year has been a learning curve with my job and being in grad school, so next year I plan to really get to see some of the things I have missed in Rochester and the surrounding areas. I also plan to really strengthen my connection between my schooling and my CA position. I am learning how to be successful in the student affairs field, so it is important for me to bring that to my position.
Interviewer: What is your ultimate career goal?
Dan: Ultimately I would like to be Vice-President for Student Affairs at a college or University. I plan to work in Residence Life for a while and then make a transition to student activities with my eventual goal of working my way to the VP job. Unfortunately that will require many years and more schooling!
For more articles from this issue, click here