By: Mary Ellen Aldrich, Arts and Culture Editor
As a freshman, all of the offices, staff members and new faces can seem somewhat daunting. Knowing who to go to for whatever question or concern a student might have is not always an easy task. The abbreviations, titles and office names can become muddled together and make knowing who to contact even more difficult. Often the people who work with Residential Life are just names attached to emails, making it difficult to approach them. However, the Residential Life (ResLife) team is a team of friendly, helpful and approachable people who enjoy serving the USM student population.
During the summer, ResLife underwent changes that may be confusing for returning students. One of the biggest changes is the location of the ResLife office. Previously it was located in 100 Upton Hastings (UH), but as offices have shifted the main ResLife office has taken up residence in 125 UH.
Another significant change to ResLife includes staffing changes to the Resident Directors (RDs) and other staff members. Tim Ryan was previously the RD of Philippi Hall (PH) and had intended to stay for another year. However, Ryan has moved on to a position closer to his family. Ryan did not leave without saying goodbye though:
Although I was only here for a year, I feel like I was really made to be part of the USM family. The Gorham campus is a tight-knit community. Getting to say hello to you all on campus, at dinner, or in the halls of Philippi (or another building when I was doing my rounds!) was really the highlight of my time here. I do what I do because I love getting to see up-close the awesome impact that college can have on students. Thanks for letting me play a small role in your college experience. I hope you continue to have success and I hope you enjoy the upcoming year!”
Taking charge of Philippi Hall (PH) for the 2017-2018 academic year is Katie Yeaton, who recently came to Maine from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas where they worked for Residential Life and completed their Master’s in Higher Education. Resident well-being is important to Yeaton and they love meeting people and hosting programs for residents. “I am wicked excited to be a Huskie,” Yeaton said, “[and] I am looking forward to skiing again, but not shoveling out my car in a blizzard.”
Robie-Andrews, which holds rumors of being haunted, is home to RD Orlando Hernandez, his girlfriend Priscilla and their cat. As of August 15, Hernandez has been at USM for one year. “It’s hard to believe I’ve been a Husky for one year already,” Hernandez said, “it’s flown by and I’m super excited to jump into my second year to continue to serve USM’s student population.” Hernandez loves meeting new students and would gladly have a conversation about his favorite movies (basically anything Marvel) and his favorite hero, Iron Man.
Upton Hastings, which is almost entirely freshmen, is where one can find RD Kelley Brague and her German Shepherd-Chihuahua dog, Pixie. Brague is new to USM, though she is not new to this type of job. Brague has worked in Residential Life at other universities for a few years prior to coming to USM. Brague and Pixie can often be found walking around the campus enjoying the fresh air and good weather.
Anderson-Woodward (AW) is technically a single dorm under one RD, but is split into two buildings. The new RD of AW is Kira Spears, a graduate student at USM. Spears supervises the RAs in both buildings and encourages community connections between the residents while working on her graduate degree.
Upperclass Hall (UC), jokingly referred to as “superior hall” by some of the staff, has had the same RD for the past few years. RD Roland Brassard, has worked in higher education for over 10 years. Brassard typically switches between staying at Upperclass Hall and staying at his house with his wife, two “crazy wonderful kids,” a dog and a cat. “One of the things I love about this job,” Brassard said, “is that it is not a typical 9-5 desk job.” Brassard’s taste in music is eclectic, so if anyone is looking for a good mixed cd of some UC tunes, Brassard is the person to ask.
In addition to the RDs and many RAs who serve the USM residential community, there are other members of the ResLife team who have major roles in the housing and residential aspects of living on campus.
The Residential Life administrative specialist, Shannon Rooney, is usually a person’s first point of contact with ResLife. Rooney dedicates her time at work to making things run smoothly for the students and ResLife office. If there is a question Rooney cannot answer right off, she is always able to track down the information or find someone who has the answer.
Erica Leighton is another member of the ResLife team, who previously served as an RD in two dorms. Leighton now works as the Assistant Coordinator for Housing Operations in ResLife. This new position allows Leighton to support students academically, focusing largely on COR classes as they relate to the Living Learning Communities. She also works to help foster connections and relationships between students and the faculty in residence as well as supporting the academic mentors. Leighton is enthusiastic about students’ success and is always there to give encouragement. “I am happy to help,” said Leighton. “Congratulations on getting through your first few weeks of classes, and best wishes for an incredible year!”
Working alongside Leighton is Christina Lowery, the Coordinator for Housing Operations. Lowery’s job is similar to Leighton’s, with some added and different responsibilities. She ensures that the RAs and RDs have all of the tools necessary to support the many residents at USM. Lowery also oversees housing selection, billing and working with Facilities Management to ensure safety and cleanliness. When she isn’t working, Lowery is taking care of her two year old daughter, cooking, and reading.
There are many moving parts in Residential Life, and many people who dedicate their work to making sure everything runs smoothly. Student well-being and academic and life success are the major core of ResLife’s work. The staff is always willing to help students and, if they do not have the answer, they will find out who does.