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ResLife members learn to ‘connect the dots’

A Resident Assistant (RA) is described as many things: friend, mentor, rule-enforcer. When asked what words came to mind at the mention of an RA, students responded with words like “caring,” “flexible” and “dedicated.” On Oct. 28, the multi-faceted Residence Life staffs of Concordia, Minnesota State University–Moorhead and North Dakota State University attended the annual Tri-College Conference.

The theme for this year’s conference (which was held at NDSU) was “Connect the Dots.” The Director’s Assistant in Livedalen Hall, Emily Anderson, felt that the theme was a good way to bring all three schools together.

“The theme was about connecting the dots between who we are, what we do in our lives and how we conduct ourselves,” she said.

The conference began with keynote speaker and NDSU Vice President for Student Affairs Prakash Mathew. Mathew, who eagerly greeted and introduced himself to students as they entered the auditorium, has worked in the Student Affairs profession for 35 years. He supervises 20 departments, 350+ staff members, 700+ student employees, and acts as an advocate for 14,000+ students.

“You are on the frontline, helping and connecting with students,” Mathew said. “And I strongly believe that you will not be able to move forward successfully until you know who you are. Are you challenging yourself daily with new knowledge?”

Throughout the course of the day, students were able to choose from a number of sessions and attend three different presentations–two of which were created by student staff members (i.e. fellow RA’s) and one of which was presented by professional staff members (i.e. hall directors).

For example, Concordia RA’s Kayla Nesler and Leah Nelson presented a session entitled, “Boards, Creativity, and Competition; Oh, my! The Lifestyle of a Bulletin Board Junkie.” The session provided students with creative bulletin board ideas and the skills they would need to make those ideas come to life.

Concordia professional staff member, Park Region and Fjelstad hall director Melissa Shugarman, teamed up with Associate Director of Residence Life Mikal Kenfield to present a session called “Ready, Set, Reflect!” The session urged students to learn tips and tools for reflection outside of the classic question-and-answer methods.

All of the sessions challenged students, as Mathew had hoped, to learn new knowledge. The sessions also encouraged students to engage in critical thought, be creative, and embrace the obstacles they will face.

“We all fail. But what happens when you fail? How do you pick up the pieces?” Mathew said. “I’m not asking you to be perfect. I’m asking you to live your values.”

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