What It Takes to Be a Hillsdale Residence Assistant
An Interview with Hannah Fleming
Written by Emma McCormick
At Hillsdale, the resident assistant (RA) position is one many students would love to have but only a few get. Hannah Fleming is one of those few, an outstanding woman and the former head RA of freshman girls’ Olds residence hall. She has a friend in everyone because of her ability to make people feel comfortable and valued. After witnessing the example of Hannah and the team of RAs she created, forty-five percent of the freshmen living in Olds applied to be RAs next year.
I was lucky to have her as my head RA, but she is more than that to me. Over the course of the year, she became an inspiring friend with whom I can always talk or laugh. While Hannah was sitting desk one evening, I had the chance to ask her some questions about her position. She was wearing her “Hillsdale Mom” T-shirt, which is a running joke (one of the head RAs in Simpson, a men’s dorm, has a “Hillsdale Dad” T-shirt) and a typical, funny, Hannah quirk. Before things got underway, she told me, “I’m going to get emotional about this.”
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What are you getting out of your RA job (besides money)?
The RA job has given me so, so much that I don’t even know where to begin. I am a different person because I have this job. One of the girls in an RA interview this year mentioned that the RA job could let her be more herself. It lets me be who I am and love so many people. It has given me friendships with the eighty girls in the dorm and the communities of RAs on campus. It’s given me lots and lots of opportunities to lead, both in the dorm and outside the dorm. This job is my life.
What made you apply for the position?
My freshman year—no, further back than that—when I moved my big sister into college, I remember meeting RAs and seeing their room and thinking it was a cool job, someone getting to do this and live in the freshman dorm. When I came to Hillsdale and got to live in Olds, my RAs were so welcoming to me, and I remember thinking they were so calm and confident, and they made me more comfortable. And I thought, This is what I want to do. All year long I kept coming back to it. I had one of the best teams of best friends and role models.
Why did you become the head RA this year? Was it for the same reasons?
I looked up to my head RA freshman year. On move-in day as a sophomore, I couldn’t help thinking that I didn’t want that to be my last time doing that. It was one of the greatest days of my life. Everything I was doing, I was thinking, This can’t be my last time doing this. I was close with my head RA that year, and I thought about how cool it would be to be this close with more girls. It’s not at all about the power. It’s more about wanting to love more people.
How do you balance your RA duties and school?
(Before Hannah answers, she tells some chatters in the lobby to talk softer because it’s “quiet hours”—a gentle reminder that part of her is always focused on her RA position.)
While we’re here at Hillsdale, we’re learning in the classroom, but we also learn a lot outside of it. Social time is important to me, as well as school. I schedule it into my time. It would be really hard to do homework all the time because I’m an extrovert. Being an RA is a social job. I schedule my time at the desk, so I am here to talk to people. It is a part of my life. I’m an RA all the time. It balances really easily because it helps me be more me.
Any final thoughts?
This job has actually changed my life so much. Seeing that, I want to give others the chance for the same experience. It is probably the best thing about my own Hillsdale experience.
Emma McCormick, ’19, is an economics major from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, where she loves to get outside to hike, camp, and ski. She started the Outdoor Adventures Club to try to keep that up in Hillsdale. She is the Public Relations officer of Praxis, and an RA in Olds Dorm. When she isn’t studying, or working at AJ’s, you might find her outside running.