The Decision That Changed My College Experience Forever

Shirt: c/o Four:Eight Shop
Skirt: The Skirtery 

Everyone goes into college with ideas of what it will be like. Sometimes those ideas are lofty and far reaching into great achievements, new friend groups, on campus organizations, and a boat load of fun. However, I was never one of those typical college bound girls....my ideas of what college would be like consisted of classes, studies, projects, surviving without my family, traveling home on the weekend, the uncertainty of new friends, and no real desire to get connected with on campus happenings or Thursday night shenanigans. Nevertheless, college proved to be so much more than I had imagines. Not so much in the way of it being to much to handle, but rather that God had another plan of what he wanted me to accomplish in an unfamiliar place and boy is he the craziest!

If you have been around here for awhile you probably can recall me mentioning that I was an RA (Resident Advisor) while at college. I got the job half way into my second semester and kept it up until my last semester of college (this fall) when I moved home for my student teaching. However, while that might not seem like that big of a deal to you, it was a HUGE deal to me because I never could have foreseen getting a job on campus, and much less being in charge of students who lived on campus.....the whole timeline and occurrence was truly ordained and destines by God to grow me in more ways than I could have known and put me in the midst of the biggest opportunity for witness I had ever experienced!

I still remember the day I received the email which said "We are pleased to offer you a Resident Advisor position beginning immediately!" And while getting the job wasn't all that much of a shock it was the process that was CRAZY! You see I randomly decided that I should apply for an RA position on campus (I think I just took a leap of faith and didn't even know what I was doing) which meant submitting an application and going through two rounds of interviews which included a panel interview with 3 people and a group interview for half a day (that in itself was not a typical Madison thing to do...talking to people I didn't know.....WHAT!). If that didn't push me out of my element enough, the fact that I immediately got one of the vacant mid semester openings a week later did.....oh, and did I mention that my RA placement was in a sorority house (insert wide eyed and shocked face emoji here)!

Here is the background on all of this:
1) I was (and still am) the person who didn't understand the need for sororities. I thought they were a waste of money, changed and conformed girls, sometimes put them in bad situations, and thought the idea of hand signs and chants was bit ridiculous. 
2) The RA positions I was interviewing for were for the next spring, but I was offered a position to start IMMEDIATELY which meant skipping all the training that new RA's typically go through to prepare them for the job and just being thrown into the midst of it! 

Now that you know a few facts, you can see how getting the job and then finding out where my job would be were all HUGE surprises and pure humor on God's part. So after completing my paperwork I started the job, which in itself had a lot of responsibilities, but responsibilities that nonetheless helped me grow:

RA Job Responsibilities:
1) Hold daily office hours.
2) Enforce the university rules and policies and make sure all resident follow them. If they fail to do so you are required to document and/or fine them based on the policies broken. 
3) Attend staff meeting ever week and all staff meetings once a month. 
4) Plan events with your staff team for all of the residents in your area. 
5) Complete rounds on your assigned night(s) with another RA. Rounds consist of walking through ever house in your area (our area had 8 houses....4 of them were sorority houses), both upstairs and downstairs. Rounds during your assigned shift were at 9:00pm and 12:00am. 
6) Respond to any calls on the duty phone while you were on call (this means 2:00 am phone calls about broken toilets).
7) While on call you must report any major policy violations (drugs or alcohol) or unsafe situations to the University Police, wait for them to arrive on scene, and stay close by to write a report. 
8) Handle roommate, suite mate, or resident complaints and disagreements. 
9) Complete safety and maintenance checks every month within your house. 
10) Hold floor meetings two times a semester for residents to go over policies and checkout procedures. 
11) Make fun and creative door decks with your residents name every month
12) Design and make a fun and creative bulletin board for your house every month. 
#11 & #12 were my personal favorite parts of being an RA :) 

Maybe you are still curious about how this decision changed my college experience forever? Here's the thing, getting the job as an RA put me in a place where I was daily outside of my comfort zone. I was no longer just the random college girl who lived two doors down, I was the RA of the house and knew all 25 girls who lived under my roof. I had to daily challenge myself to say hi to my resident, talk to my co-workers, and acknowledge the many faces I now knew.

Not only that, but I joined a staff team, surrounded by over 9 people that I didn't know, and for this introvert that was something I never had worked through before. I had to learn to work with new people, get to know them, plan events with them, back them up when they were on call, ask for help when need be, express my opinions, and at the same time be completely different than everyone else around me. I don't think I ever expected to know that many people at college, but after becoming an RA I not only knew people on my staff team, but I got to know other RA's who worked across campus.

I no longer walked to class seeing faces I didn't recognize or know, because I now actually knew people.....by name (I think my mom is still shocked by this). I knew my fellow staff members, my residents, and even my team members residents. I actually hung out with people other than my ONE friend at college because as an RA we would have "staff bonding" days, dinners, all staff events with all the RA's on campus, and random grocery store runs.

With all of that being said, I still today believe that this all happened for ONE reason! God ordained this to do something in me that I never would have allowed him to do otherwise. He ordained it to STRETCH my introvert self beyond my limits, instill the confidence in myself that I really could do hard things, gave me the courage and strength to talk to new people, the wisdom to deal with difficult and hard circumstances, and the boldness to share my faith. I think if anything he allowed me to become an RA to give be a platform to be a positive influence. He took me (Madison), this quiet and old fashioned, high value, strong moral girl and placed her in a Sorority house where I daily had contact with girls who lived much differently than me. He took me (Madison), this quiet and sometimes ridiculously nervous girl and placed me on a staff team of which there was only one person who shared my same faith (until another girl joined us two semesters in) and thus gave me the BIGGEST stage for witness......whether that witness was in sharing my faith with fellow staff members and my boss, praying with a resident, sharing my relationship views with the girls in my house, or even just living a different life in the choices I made and expressing my views on a few occasions. Through being an RA I learned BOLDNESS and I learned how different I was from the world and nearly every other college student on campus, but I also learned that as an Introvert I could still thrive in an environment filled with people.

If my decision to become an RA taught me anything, it taught me about the REAL MADISON. It showed me the courage, strength, and boldness I possessed that I didn't even know I had. It showed me that God can do the unimaginable in your life and grow you exponentially more than you could have ever foreseen. It showed me that by being yourself, people respect that as being a unique part of who you are and that being yourself is the best thing you can ever offer the world (or college for that matter)!

Sure, I was exposed to more "college life" than I had originally expected by becoming an RA (I will forever be able to bust people for smoking marijuana....yes, you read that right), but I also got to do a lot of cool stuff and use my creative skills as part of my job. And sure, there were times that I didn't make the most of the opportunities that I had, but in the midst of it all I know that the opportunities I did take were defining moments in my life that forever changed me and changed my college experience. I could seriously write an entire book on this topic (as you can tell from this long post) but I will end it here, because through it all God taught me to see the open doors of opportunity around me, muster the courage to walk through them, and trust that he would keep them open for more of his crazy plans.

I always believed God has had CRAZY plans for my life and college was just many of those plans rolled up into one that reminded me that when I think I have control over the future, it is never really me, but God who succeeds!

- Madison

5 comments

  1. What an interesting story of how you got the job! And I can't believe that you had to be in charge of that whole list of things, plus still do college courses, and blogging, and yet you lived to tell about it! It sounds like your plate was loaded to the max.! It's a good encouragement for us, that when God gives us an unexpected opportunity, He will stay beside us and guide us through the craziness. Thanks for the post!
    ~ Megan Joy

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    1. Even though the list is long, it actually didn't feel like that much sometimes.....but looking back I am still surprised at how I managed to do my job, focus on classes, and blog :0 Glad you found encouragement in this post!
      - M

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  2. From one introvert to another, just reading this makes me hyperventilate.
    I’ve been reading your blog for a few years, probably from your first year and this is the first time I’ve commented. I relate to your personality which keeps me reading. I’m a little older than you but I enjoy seeing you live out your faith with integrity and being such a great example for us all.

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    1. Wow Kat, this totally made my day knowing you have been following along with the adventures of Minnie Muse this long! I am so glad you decided to comment on this post:) I am so glad ti know that we have similar personalities....that is a bond I have found with so many people that makes us all share something unique and helps us relate to others in a way not many people can. Your comment was so encouraging and makes me feel so happy that the words I write can encourage others. I hope you comment more & thank you for supporting what I love :)
      -M

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  3. I was an RA my last two years of college, and I did a lot of growing too! It helped me become more empathetic to others, mediate conflicts, and lead peers. I’m glad yours was a good stretching experience, too!

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