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The Students are Coming

Resident assistants share advice for the new arrivals

Story Series
News Feature

As thousands of students arrived on campus over Labor Day weekend, a group of 87 resident assistants eagerly welcomed them. Their job is to make living at BSU a safe and rewarding experience.

Resident assistants are programmers, conflict resolvers and mentors. They aim to help students living in BSU housing to grow socially, culturally and academically. Knowing that many incoming students have questions about college life and BSU in general, we decided to seek help from these all-around experts. Several RAs gladly shared their stories and offered helpful tips for living on campus.


Pictured (from left): RAs Gwen Weissinger, Maria Victoria Ponte, Dajuan Frasier, Alex Porter, Keyana Adarkwah and Ellie Cooper.

Gwen Weissinger, ’19
MAJOR: psychology
HOMETOWN: Northbridge
Gwen toured only state schools because they were affordable, and BSU felt immediately like home. It was just the right distance from her Worcester County hometown. At BSU, Gwen has grown as a leader and student while cementing her goal to pursue a career related to holistic wellness, therapy, yoga and meditation.
WHY BE AN RA? “I love connecting with new students. I think the opportunity to build community in a residence hall is very unique to the RA role.”
DECORATING TIP: House plants. They improve air quality. And, “if your friends aren’t around and you’re feeling lonely, you can always talk to your plants.”
ROOMMATE ADVICE: “If you want them to be your own snacks, label them as your own snacks.”

Maria Victoria Ponte, ’19   
MAJOR: English and secondary education
HOMETOWN: New Bedford
RESIDENCE HALL: Weygand, Lavender Residential Learning Community
BSU was a fallback option when Maria couldn’t afford a different school. But, Maria is thrilled to be part of a community of supportive, diverse Bears.
WHY BE AN RA? Maria, who identifies as pansexual (the capacity to experience sexual or romantic attraction to all genders), wants to help and advocate for fellow students who are part of the LGBTQ community. The Lavender Residential Learning Community supports those students.
DECORATING TIP: “Don’t think any of your decorations are uncool or too much. … If you want to hang up a nerdy poster of Albert Einstein, hang up a nerdy poster of Albert Einstein.”
ROOMMATE ADVICE: “Establish a chore chart because your room is going to get disgusting.”

Dajuan Frasier, ’20
MAJOR: sociology
RESIDENCE HALL:  Weygand                 
BSU was the only university he found that worked financially and “for that I am entirely grateful.” Bridgewater taught Dajuan about responsibility, leadership and social justice. Working at the Center for Multicultural Affairs has “taught me a lot about being myself.”
WHY BE AN RA? “I really did want to show support for students of color. … I definitely want to feel I can be a resource to students like that.”
DECORATING TIP: “No matter what your room looks like, Christmas lights are good.”
ROOMMATE ADVICE: “Compromise is key, especially if you’ve never shared a room before. … Sometimes you can’t always have the window open because you’re going to freeze your roommate. Also, advocate for yourself and make sure you’re in a comfortable space.”

Alex Porter, ’19
MAJOR: English (concentration in writing and writing studies)
HOMETOWN: Brockton
Alex was originally planning to go out of state for school, but backed out at the last minute. Alex eventually found BSU and its supportive and inclusive environment. After coming initially to simply get a degree, Alex is now a leader in Greek life, housing and elsewhere.
WHY BE AN RA? As a freshman, Alex did not want to get involved and felt lost. The Bridgewater experience changed that and Alex wants to help students go through the same transformation.
DECORATING TIP: “Pick five things that make your home feel like home and bring those.”
ROOMMATE ADVICE: “Talk about things before they escalate and you’re angry. When you first notice it, bring it up.”

Keyana Adarkwah, ’20 
MAJOR: psychology
HOMETOWN: Randolph
While Keyana has always been an outgoing person, she spent much of her time in her room during the first half of freshman year. But, mentors such as Justin McCauley, associate director of residence life, believed in her and saw her potential. “I didn’t like Bridgewater at first. … Now, I love it here.”
WHY BE AN RA? “Residence life has really done a lot for me. I just wanted to give back.” She hopes to help students come out of their shells.
DECORATING TIP: “You should have a rug in your room. I fall asleep on my rug all the time. It just makes the room look complete. “
ROOMMATE ADVICE: “Don’t rely on your roommate to be your only friend.”

Ellie Cooper, ’21
MAJOR: social work
HOMETOWN: Middlefield, Connecticut
RESIDENCE HALL: Pope                
BSU was affordable and far enough away to let Ellie truly experience living on her own. Despite being extremely nervous freshman year, Bridgewater is now her safe place away from Middlefield.
WHY BE AN RA? Freshman year was difficult for Ellie as she struggled to adjust to being away from home and relied too much on her roommate as one of the only people she knew.  RAs her freshman year were there for Ellie and now she wants to help students who have trouble adjusting to Bridgewater.  “I completely understand that feeling.”
DECORATING TIP: “Bring pictures that are really meaningful to you, whether that’s of your family, something to remind you of home or what makes you happy.”
ROOMMATE ADVICE: “Do not bring up conflicts and try to resolve them in a text message. Do this in person.”

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