By Lydia Simmons, Arts & Culture Editor
Residential Life (ResLife) at the University of Southern Maine plays a very important role in the experience and success of USM students, so finding the right people to be a part of the ResLife team is crucial. When there became position openings for not one, but three residential director positions for the USM residences of Robie Andrews, Philippi, and Anderson-Woodward Halls, the hunt began for the perfect fit.
Director of Residential Life and Housing, Christina Lowery, shed some light on the role that ResLife plays in the USM community. Lowery explained, “In ResLife we provide housing for students on campus, but beyond that what we really do is we build a community on campus amongst the residential students, and support them in their academic and personal success.”
For Res Life fulfilling their duties is made possible by a hardworking and dedicated staff, the concept of ‘it takes a village’ capturing the essence of the group.
The hiring process followed USM’s general Human Resources (HR) process for the open Resident Director positions. The position openings were posted for no less than twenty four days, allowing people who qualified for the positions to apply. The pool of applicants were then reviewed by a committee, which also included a student representative. The committee decided which applicants were given a first interview and then, following the first interviews, they decided who would be invited to come to campus.
Once the applicant comes to campus, they then conduct the Resident Director interviews, which involves spending time with different groups. These groups included the aforementioned committee, the resident to life team, a group of students, as well as time spent giving a presentation, which some campus constituents are invited to attend.
About the hiring process Lowery said, “As we’re trying to make sure that all our folks can get a sense of the people and give us some feedback, we also want them to get to meet all the people that are around our department so they really get a good sense of the culture of our community.”
Originally from Indiana, Hilary-Lynn McCabe came to Maine to attend the University of Maine Orono where she participated in a graduate program in higher education. McCabe applied for the position of Resident Director at USM and was one of the three applicants who were selected for the job. She is currently the Resident Director for Robie-Andrews Hall and began her position in mid-July.
When asked about why she chose to apply to the position at USM she said, “I’m really interested in residence life because I’m passionate about things like community building and student advocacy. I’ve worked in diversity and inclusion, and residence life kind of encompasses a lot of these different areas and USM specifically, I noticed in my job search, had a really great attention to things like diversity and inclusion and I got the sense that the people who work here are great team members and care about students.”
As the school year goes on McCabe is looking forward to getting to know USM better and getting to experience the events and traditions that take place at the university.
Maine resident, Brandon Hallee, was another applicant for the Resident Director position that stood out and was hired to join the ResLife team. Hallee attended USM, graduating in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in leadership and organizational studies and a minor in athletic coaching. He worked in HR, but missed being a part of the campus and student life prompting him to apply to the open position of resident director. He began his position September 20 and is now the Resident Director for Anderson-Woodward Hall.
On applying, Hallee, who had served as an RA for three years while attending USM said, “Simply put I just absolutely loved working with students and being a part of student life and on campus life and just seeing the ways that people can be affected by a good on campus housing experience and the types of impacts that you can have on the students in so many different ways. And so I absolutely loved it and it’s really the only position and type of work that I have done that hasn’t felt like work, where I get excited that I get to go to a meeting and get to work with a student and meet with a student and help them.”
Hallee looks forward to helping to establish a new norm for students on campus and helping them navigate their new lives as college students.
Hailing from Massachusetts, Christopher Horack is another one of the newly hired Resident Directors rounding out the newly appointed trio. Horack studied for his undergraduate degree at Endicott College where he earned a degree in hospitality management. He then took a year off before attending Elon University where he earned his masters in Higher Education. He began his position on September 20th and is now the Resident Director for Philippi Hall.
Speaking on his experience thus far and the environment of Philippi Hall, Horack said, “I love it, I love Philippi, it seems like an amazing group of students in there, a lot of different students and I think bringing together a really diverse community is exciting and it seems like the students and staff are really great!”