Chadron State College
Chadron State College

RLA supports student engagement

Jan 21, 2020

Taylor Osmotherly
Taylor Osmotherly

College Relations publishes news articles, features and Q&A interviews to highlight various departments on campus in an effort to assist employees and students in gaining an increased awareness about and understanding of each other’s roles and responsibilities.

This Q&A is with Taylor Osmotherly, Associate Director of Residence Life.

Q: Can you tell us how Residence Life Association (RLA) seeks to engage students?

We believe that keeping students engaged is a critical component and catalyst to student success at Chadron State College. Luckily for me, our RLA staff is full of some of the most selfless, creative, and empathetic people I know. Our staff is constantly coming up with creative ways to engage students, ways to make life better for our students, and putting students before themselves. Not only do we want students to be successful at CSC, we want students to have a good time while they are here.

Q: What responsibilities do Resident Advisers (RAs) have in supporting their residents’ engagement?

Our 39 RAs have a role that is often thankless, yet they have some of the biggest impact on the lives of our students. RAs have about a million responsibilities, but their main focus is always the well-being of their residents, whether this means being a listening ear when things aren’t going well or inviting a resident to one of the hundreds of RLA events that we host. Ultimately, our RAs support their residents’ engagement by genuinely caring about their residents and knowing a few tricks, tips, and resources to help in that process.

Q: Have you seen student engagement with RLA expand to other areas?

Of course. That’s why I love my job. RLA offers an incredibly easy on-ramp for students to successfully transition from scared 18-year-olds, who sometimes have a skewed idea of what college is, into confident and competent upper-classmen who have bright futures.

Q: What are some unique ways you have seen students benefit from being engaged on campus?

It is impossible for me to list all the ways I have seen the benefits of student engagement on campus, but I’ll try to capture the general idea through my personal story. I began classes at CSC in the Fall of 2013 from nearby Crawford, Nebraska. I came to college pretty unsure. Despite orientation, I didn’t really know how to get involved on campus, nor did I care to get involved. Needless to say, I was not very engaged my first semester. I drove home once or twice a week, often staying there on the weekends. I simply planned on graduating in four years and peacing out. But something changed toward the end of that semester. I started to get to know people on campus that seemed to genuinely care about me. I started to realize that there were a ton of events I could go to that were surprisingly fun. I started to get involved in some clubs on campus, making friends with a bunch of really cool people.

CSC quickly changed from being a place where I was just going to survive to a place where I was excited to live. I could see myself thriving and making a difference. I was hired as an RA that spring semester, and the doors opened even wider. I changed from being the person who needed some direction and friends into being a person who could offer some direction and friendship. Weirdly enough, being engaged on campus has changed my whole life. Look at me, six and a half years later, now working for the college and still believing that the difference I can make in a student’s life is well worth it.

Q: How is RLA, itself, engaged on campus?

We are firm believers that everyone at Chadron State College is one big team. We love to support our CSC family in any way we can. I think the easiest way you can see us being engaged on campus is through our programming efforts. Our whole team is involved in various programs throughout the year, and often we utilize programming to help support or work with others on campus. For example, we frequently work with organizations/departments such as: Student Senate, The Pit, the King Library, Project Strive/TRiO, the counselors, athletics, the Nelson Physical Activity Center, and clubs. We also regularly attend other events on the CSC Eagle Rewards app.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add?

I think one of my favorite things about RLA is how meaningful and unique our staff’s initiatives can be. If someone on our staff notices a way something can be improved, they come up with a way to make it happen. There is no limit to their creativity and good hearts. For example, Channing Jons, Assistant Director of Residence Life, came up with the amazing idea to have a place on campus where students could take and donate clothes – a sustainability effort that directly and positively affects our students. For another example, some of our staff agreed that it can be challenging to find others to talk in Spanish with. Before you know it, a Spanish speaking group was formed. There’s honestly hundreds of examples like these that I could share that all lead back to the creativity, dedication, and follow-through of our team. I couldn’t ask for a better job.

—Kelsey R. Brummels, College Relations