Towers Talk is a WVU podcast featuring Residence Hall Coordinators Angela Delfine-Mechler and Patrick O’Donnell. Each week, the hosts bring you an interview with different members of the WVU community to help you get adjusted to your new campus home!

Join Angela Delfine-Mechler and Patrick O'Donnell as they interview the 2021 RA Hall of Fame Award Recipients: Ashley Van Camp from Oakland East & Oakland Apartments, as well as a trio of girls from Braxton Tower (the best Tower): Heather Hughes, Jadynn Veigel, and previous TTP guest Hannah Byxbee. Listen as our guests share some of their favorite memories as Ras and what they learned from their experience. Tune in here!

Transcription:

Hi, everyone. Welcome back to another episode of Towers Talk. I'm Angela, and I’m Patrick. Welcome back to another week. The Towers Talk podcast is brought to you by Lyon Bennett and Braxton Towers. Towers. You can live anywhere, but when you're here, you're home. All right, folks, today we're joined by four of our amazing WVU RAs.

Currently we say amazing because they were recently nominated by their peers and selected by mine and Angela's boss as the leadership of our department for residence life to be inducted as the newest members into the WVU RA Hall of Fame. So these four ladies are graduating or leaving a position after this semester, but during their time with our department and with our residents, they made an incredible impact on everybody that they came across.

So having said that I am very excited to welcome Ashley Van Camp from Oakland East and Oakland apartments, as well as a trio of girls from Braxton Tower, the best Tower, Heather Hughes, Jadynn Veigel, and our previous TTP guest Hannah Byxbee. Welcome everyone.

Thanks for having us.

And we're going to ask all of you to answer, and we're gonna ask you to answer in the order that we introduced you. So starting with Ashley and then Heather Jane, and finally, Hannah, let's start with, can you share what degrees you're going to be receiving from WVU, how you ended up at WVU and how long you were an RA.

Yeah. So my name is Ashley van camp, and I'm currently a rising fourth year student pharmacist at the WVU school of pharmacy. I'll be receiving my doctorate in pharmacy. And I'm about to start my fourth year clinical rotation. So I'm very excited to be starting this chapter. I ended up at WVU for a multitude of reasons.

Whether that's the financial benefits that I got from the school. It's close to my hometown and I really just liked the culture of WVU it's holds West Virginia values, very close to it. It's kind of the pride of the state. And I. After my first year as a freshman, I decided to be an RA at Oakland hall.

And I've been serving in this position for the past four years. I'm Heather Hughes. I will be graduating. Oh gosh. And just a week or so with a Bachelor of Science and biology. I ended up at WVU because my dad's side of the family went here. That's it. This March was the start of my fourth year, which is crazy high.

I am Jadynn Veigel and I will be receiving a bachelor's degree in religious studies. I originally ended up at WVU because I was going to be a petroleum engineering major. Yikes. And WVU was one of the few schools close to home that had that major. Obviously that ended up going really well for me ending with religious studies, but I have been an RA for three years now, but I have lived at Braxton for all four years of my college degree.

Hi, my name is . I will be graduating in May with a bachelor's in environment. The geoscience, I came to West Virginia originally very similar to Jadynn. I was going to get a civil engineering degree and in my junior year I was like, oh, maybe, maybe not like this. So I switched. I've been an RA for three years.

All of which at Braxton Tower, best Tower. Yeah. Awesome. So thank you. Thank you all for introducing yourselves and sharing a little bit about yourself. So all right. So I think everyone here that's listening would agree with us anytime you win an award, right? Especially one as prestigious as being in the hall of fame for RAs.

While that award may be an individual award, it is seldom earned individually. Most of the time the work done to accomplish that, you know, is, is done in Tana with others or with the help of other people. So apart from your, your RHCs, who we of course know are just so important to your success, who are some people that help you to reach this milestone.

Please feel free to share their names and shout them out. And you know, if you want to include your RHCs by all means, include them. Yeah, absolutely. So this is Ashley again from Oakland hall and I would be doing a disservice if I didn't shout out my RHC for the past few years, Travis had me who has been the biggest supporter in my role as an RA, whether it's through our one-on-ones emergency one-on-ones that I need throughout pharmacies.

Cool. And just supporting me as a human being while I kind of manage my life the past few years. And I also wanted to kind of shout out my first year, RAs Jason Horvath and Sydney Hancock, because they really encouraged me to apply for the RA job and really empowered me that I could be a good RA and.

Looking back now and catching up with them. It's just so great to see how far I was able to come. And also my lovely fiancé, Tyler Tenney who I started dating him my first year as an RA. So he really has helped me through the RA job. Heather again. I definitely think that just like Ashley, my significant other Ian, who I also met on the job has definitely helped a lot along with my co Millie.

She's amazing. She's about us. This has been such a crazy year for everyone. I feel like I've done so, so much been involved in so many things and she has always been there to help me, which has been amazing. And our staff, our staff is great. I know staffs that will not pick up a shift for anybody won't help out at all.

It happens unfortunately, but our stuff is always there for each other, which is amazing. Hi Jaden. Again, the list of people that have helped me along the way I could legit spend the entire rest of this podcast saying but probably most importantly, just getting into the position. The people most important were my RAs Kendra Tedrick and Amy Potayo.

They were amazing human beings and. Another person. Very important. Getting me into this role is Brandon Pierson, who lived on my floor the first year and is also, has been an RA over in Oakland. I remember on after our Halloween party, we were all walking over to iHub as a floor. And he's just like, guys, don't you think Jane would make a great RA.

And that was the day I decided to join this position so that. Was just something that really started everything. And obviously Patrick has been great this entire time. The rest of our staff, like I said, I could list off everybody's names from the last three years. And they've been really important for my job here is being an RA and me staying here and wanting to be here.

Hi, this is Hannah. I have to really agree that it's been just like everyone together as a community, helping to bring each other up. I guess like specifically again, like I also met my boyfriend, Thomas, who the job, and he's been an immensely helpful and supportive through all the years of college and what it takes to be an RA and all my fellow RAs, like all the CO's I've had before Luna, batcher, Maki, and just working together and like growing as people and working on what it takes to run a successful floor community.

Awesome. Thank you all so much for that. So when you look back on the whole of your time as an RA, what are you most proud of? Was there a particular achievement or a collection of things that you achieved that you look back on? And you're like, you know, this, this was definitely the, the thing that I'm most proud of going out of this role.

This is Ashley again. And like you said, Angela, I feel like it's just a collection of things that kind of amounted to kind of the climax of our career. As an RA, I think if you didn't know, I'm an RA at the apartment in Oakland, so it's an offshoot of Oakland at you park apartments. And it's a little bit of a different RA and resident experience.

And I have been able to serve in this role for the past two years with my co and roommate and way home. And, and we've really found our niche of what things work over here in the apartments with our resident community, which is mostly athletes. What things work, what things don't work how can we best support them in the unconventional community?

And I think something that I'm most proud of is after receiving this award, a lot of my past residents who I kept up with through social media, started sharing their stories of things that I did that made their first year better. So things like, remember that time where you stayed up till 2:00 AM to talk to me whenever I was really stressed.

Or things like, remember whenever I had an exam and you just really encouraged me before I went to do it. So looking back, that is what I'm super proud of is the impact that I had on my residents, where I don't remember those conversations that I had. I know they happened, but I did them so much that that was part of my job.

And I'm so glad that I was able to make those individual impacts on those people's lives. This is Heather again, similar to Ashley. I think one of the things I'm most proud of is just my impact on the residents. I've had residents that have felt comfortable coming to me about very, very sensitive material.

And it's a good feeling to know that you're a trustworthy person, someone that they feel comfortable talking to Millie. And I have one bulletin board of the month, a few times. So that's pretty good. I'm also, aside from the role, I'm proud of myself personally, because. The role is hard. It's not, it's not always easy.

It can be stressful, especially the first of the month. It's stressful. And so I'm just proud of myself for maintaining that grades, teaching a lot of stuff, Jadynn here. I agree a lot of The things that I'm proud of or like the impact that I had on residents, especially my first year as an RA and just the community that we created.

I know Patrick had mentioned this once before on a different podcast of the Ocho and has mentioned it multiple other times. I would also just want to take a quick time to correct how the. Name of the OSHA was started because it was not correct when Patrick said it on the podcast, he said that Bruce was the one who started it, but it was just Lily Westbrook, who one day we were all hanging out with residents and they were talking about like, Hey, we should name the floor.

And she was like, what about like ESPN, the Ocho from Dodge ball. And she said that once and I never let it go. So that is how the OSHA started, how the OSHA will continue and how it will forever be remembered. And on top of that, something else that I'm also just really proud of is just how our staff works on in being in Braxton and just how close we all are.

And I constantly find like other people on staff, like constantly coming to me for like things. Whenever they have like questions, especially like. If they're like, oh, this is a question for like, just another RA. Like, I don't need to ask Patrick next. Like I find people just constantly texting me and like, sometimes I'll tell my mom I'm like, I don't know why they always come to me.

But I just think that the fact that they find it, like find me a good person to come to like ask questions is just something that I'm really proud of, that they feel comfortable enough, like asking questions to do that. Hi, this is Hannah again. I know like. This has been mentioned before, but one thing that I'm really proud of is like the programming I've been able to do through the job.

One in particular is Marvel movie Sundays, which we ran for two years. And I think having, having residents decide to come out for multiple weeks in a row to spend a couple of hours of their Sunday with just us watching movies and discussing them and having those conversations and having enough of like a draw where they're like, yeah, this is like how I want to spend my time is like such a great feeling, like to know.

That you're getting through to residents and having conversations and connecting them to each other. And to have that two years, we had people from previous years back. So we know they had seen the movies and they still wanted to come back. And just in general, even like one-off programs, like having people on the floor come out who maybe are a little nervous, they're kind of shy and being able to get to know them, get to connect them and seeing that impact throughout like your year on the floor is just a really rewarding experience of being an RA.

So, yeah, programming is just like continuously one of my like proudest achievements. Awesome. That those are all really great answers. Really appreciate it. And like, I think for any of our listeners, and we're going to talk about them here in a second, but like future RAs or current RAs, if you need here, when you go to the info sections about the job and you hear about all the different aspects of it, you know, you have to do programming, you have to connect with residents, you have to work on a team like.

You hear all of that here from those answers that we were just given you hear about, you have to balance the job. There's so many things and it just really all, we had like four very different and distinct answers that all represent those two different aspects of the job. So thank you all. So speaking of that large, large swath of our listeners are of TTP are current or even.

Former residents and RAs at WVU. So let's address this next question to our current and future our rates. Okay. People who'll be graduating next year or in a few years who will be up for the hall of fame eventually in their own time. What are some things you recommend they do if their goal is to be nominated and hopefully get into the hall of fame as well?

Yeah, absolutely. So this is Ashley again, and I think firstly. A good place to start is just with the minimum job description. So first be a good RA and do everything you need to first, make sure you turn in your paperwork on time. Make sure you're getting like your interactions with your residents. Make sure you're communicating with your supervisor on time.

And I think that's a great place to start. And then from building from there, make yourself available to your other coworkers and your residents to be able to talk and just go through different scenarios. Like if your coworker is unsure, how to handle a certain incident. Do a mock incident with them and try to talk them through the process.

And I think just something that I really prided myself on is just being a mentor to my coworkers and to the residents. So as a pharmacy student, I'm definitely very busy with my doctoral program and. I also am a president of a student org. So definitely I made sure that all my eggs are in the right basket and making sure I was allotting the time that I needed to, to each thing.

So prioritizing your time, because time is limited and making sure that you're giving the adequate amount of time to your RA job. Don't put it on the back burner, make it a priority. This is Heather again. The whole promise of RA hall of fame is that you're someone that someone else can look up to.

So be that be someone that younger RAs or newer RAs can look up to, especially during training, it's all confusing. It's all new. It's kind of a lot to handle at first. So be someone that is there for them that is willing to. Walk through all of that with them also, I think be someone that just has good vibes, like create good vibes on staff, be someone that lifts people up.

If they're down, you know, celebrate their victories help them if they're going through a hard time, that makes it good. RA. Jadynn here. As Heather and Ashley mentioned, like it's so important to have like those baselines and everything, but like the very fundamental things to just care, like about the position care about your residents care about your staff care about doing the paperwork that sometimes gets very annoying, just.

Karen to everything that you do for this position. Probably if you're hoping to be hall of fame or you're wanting to be here, it's because you truly enjoy this job and like you do truly care. So just take the time to appreciate the people around you and let them know that you appreciate them.

And. You'll most likely get hall of fame just by doing the bare minimum things of caring. And it's not the fact of just going through and thinking, oh, I want to get hall of fame. It's just thinking I want to be a good person. And I want to care about these people and somebody is bound to notice and it will be likely to happen.

Hi, this is Hannah again. So I definitely agree with everything everyone's been saying. It's about like caring for each other and working to build a better community. I'm also going to add, if you have a weird idea for a program or an initiative for ResLife, just go for it, see how you can make the job better.

Like if you have a program or like a concept you want to get to your floor and you have no idea how to do that just work with your CO's and like, Build this idea. Like we've had, we've had failed ideas, like last year that's here and I wanted to start a Minecraft server for our floor. It didn't really pan out.

And but we also had ideas like I'm proposing to ResLife to change the curfew policy and that did work. So a lot of it's about figuring out where are the needs in the community and ResLife as a whole. And how can you fix that? And sometimes it takes some weird thinking. It takes a lot of like building and planning to get it to work.

But I think if you're willing to put in that creative effort, you would be a really great contender for hall of fame. I love it. Thank you. And speaking of weird programs, I'm still trying to get Patrick to pitch for a petting zoo at some point. So you know, 20, 21, 2022 may be that year. I don't know.

But I love that. Thank you all so much for sharing. So since you're all graduating in the coming weeks, can you all just share with us, what are some of the best things you'll take away from your time as an RA? What are your favorite memories? Or maybe some people you've met or skills that you've gained and like essentially, what are you going to carry with you as you head off into quote unquote retirement as an RA?

Yeah, absolutely. Angela there so many. This is Ashley again. Great. Cut. Hey, this is Ashley again. Thank you, Angela. There's so many memories that I can just think of that I'm going to take that are very fond to my heart, that I'm going to leave from this position, whether that is late night, taco bell trip, I hop trip late night, movie night.

Those things personally I'll take away, but even though like, my degree is very different from ResLife education and things like that. So sometimes people ask me why as a pharmacy student, you're not working in a pharmacy during your education, why are you working in residence life? Why are you working with first year students?

And something that I take away from the job and to all of my interviews for pharmacy is that I'm able to work with a team with your coach, with your supervisors. And I'm able to communicate with a diverse group. You have a difficult group sometimes. So. Definitely making sure that I'm able to highlight all those soft skills that are super important to pharmacy and every other degree aspect.

That those are some definitely, I guess, career skills that I've learned from the RA job. That definitely benefit me whether I'm going to be an education in the future, or this is Heather again, since working here in 2018, I think. One of the best things is just meeting everyone that's coming through, whether it's residents, RAs, anything like that.

And with that comes, some of my favorite memories is just pre COVID BC before COVID doing homework and stuff in the BLC, the Brook learning center. I feel like that was an unofficially claimed RA territory. And it was so much fun whether we were working on stuff, playing games, whatever it was struggling, it doesn't matter.

We were struggling together. It was a lot of fun. And like Ashley said, this teaches so many skills looks good on a resume. I think the biggest skill it's taught me is time management. Like I said, in one of my previous answers. I'm doing this. I'm teaching. I worked at the hospital. I'm in clubs, organizations on campus.

And holy cow has this taught me how to manage my time. It's been amazing. Hi, Jaden again as has been mentioned probably something my best times are like things taken away is mostly memories with staff, especially like what Heather had just mentioned of us always being in the BLC. Like she said, BC before COVID we used to have game nights, like almost all the time, almost like every single weekend.

We would just get in there and play like a bunch of board games together. And just like I said, we truly enjoyed just being with them. With one another. And I think that's going to be something that I miss a lot is just the staff as a whole, but like what we have created and just like be in Vermont, the environment that is here in Braxton, that will be your lasting legacy as we go on.

But yeah, as they also said something that I will carry with me forever is, like I said, like the memories that I've made my ability to just. Work through like very odd situations, like the situations of NRA that they don't teach you during training. Like for some reason, all the ones that they go through never seem to happen is always some random stuff.

Like. A door falling off in the bathroom and just having to deal with those situations and figuring out how to manage stuff that you weren't prepared for. So just being able to roll with the punches as you go and just learning throughout the job is something that I will take with me. Hi, this is Hannah.

I definitely agree like the experiences you have with your staff are amazing and I'll carry those memories forever. And it's also like. Things I've really enjoyed is working with the engineering LLC within Braxton. We do a lot of cool events like we've gone to escape rooms movie nights, things like that.

And it's just, it's always just a fun time to be with both the RAs and the residents and kind of like, just have fun, kind of like a break from school. One thing I'll take away from this job after I graduate is when I came into school. When I first started college, I feel like I always second guessed myself.

Like I wasn't always sure I was making the right moves. I was always worried like, oh man, that something's not right. But coming into like being an RA and working with everyone and putting plans into action and helping residents out has definitely built my confidence where it's still, you get those days where you're like, not quite sure of yourself, but they're definitely less common.

And I think it's helped a lot, like just improving in my life and feeling better about the things I do and the impact that I can have. Thank you. That was, that was really, that was, those are some awesome answers. We love to hear that. Thank you all so much for sharing that. Okay. So we end all of our TTP episodes with the same question.

So we're going to ask all of you as well. What is one piece of advice that you wish to share with our first year students here at WVU? With Ashley again? I think my biggest piece of advice for first year students here is to step out of your comfort zone. Do things that you might not think that you'd be good at because you might be good at it.

And you won't know until you try it and talk to your RA. Like we, we're here to talk to you. And we're here to help you where your biggest resource on campus, and we can connect you with anything you want to do. And we can really help you find your place here at WVU and make it your home. This is Heather again.

Oh my gosh. I feel like I can't stress this enough. Make friends. Put yourself out there make friends. I did it my freshman year. I actually did it to my current RHC. For one of my classes, I was like, you know what, I'm going to make friends. This is going to be great. And I said, Hey, are you in this class too?

And he said, no, I'm the teacher. And so that was a lot of fun. But. Typically it doesn't backfire like that. Make friends put yourself out there. I genuinely feel like the main reason freshmen leave either during their first year or right afterwards is because they don't feel like they fit in. They feel like they haven't found their niche.

They don't have a group of friends. They don't feel connected to campus. So the best thing that you can do is to put yourself out there and it's not weird. Well, maybe in my case, it was weird, but it's not typically weird. Because everyone, their first few weeks of freshman year is looking to make friends everyone's in the same exact boat.

I promise it's not weird. Yes. As Heather said, first year students, the advice that I Jaden have for you is similar, just be unapologetically yourself, make sure to be your truest self. As you come into college, you probably spent all of high school and all the rest of your time, forcing yourself to fit into places that maybe didn't suit you.

College is not the place to do the same. There's so many students here at WVU that you can find people that want you to be yourself and allow you to be yourself. And if you feel as if you're ever changing yourself to fit in with people, don't be around those people, be around people who make you feel your best and who encourage you to be your best and love you for who you are.

If you don't feel that way, don't be friends with those people and keep going out to find people that make you feel your best self. Hi, this is Hannah. Yeah, I would say to for like freshmen, one thing that you're probably going to face at some point is you think that you're failing? Like things just never go your way.

No matter what you do, you can't fix it. And I promise you, it's not that you're failing. There's definitely like. This like stress that you're finding, and it's just learning how to manage that and learning how to be the person you want to be. And that's also, it's like what we're talking about, like surrounding yourself with people who support you through those times.

And just learning to pick yourself up after like those moments of like, I did not do nearly as well as I did. And it's never too late to kind of like readjust your path. Like I said this earlier, I was in my junior year, spring semester and I switched my major. Like I, and honestly, like I'm much better off for it.

Like it's never too late to reevaluate your priorities and what you want to do because college is that time. And you're not ever really gonna be sure who you are, but if something's not working, just like focus on that and be like, how can I fix this? And how are the people around me, like supporting me through that?

Because if they're not, they're probably not someone you want to be with. Awesome. That was great advice. Thank you all so much for joining us today and thank you, Ashley, Heather, Jaden and Hannah for your time today, make sure to tune in next week when we interview another member of the WVU community.