Working as a Graduate Resident Assistant

Christine So, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice Leadership MA candidate

As a Graduate Resident Assistant (RA), I had the opportunity to live on Beacon Street near the SMFA campus in Fenway. You can hear the bells ringing from the green line train right in front of us with the original Tatte Bakery and Cafe just a few steps away. These brownstones we get to live in have the unique history of seeing various types of first-year undergraduate BFA students in these old, yet very aesthetic buildings. The three buildings 1047, 1025, and 1023, each have such a unique character and all the residents that reside in it each get an unforgettable living experience in their first years as a student in Boston. Fun fact: 1023 used to be a Bed and Breakfast!

Prior to coming to Tufts, I had been a RA for two years. In my role, there are some key goals we have to hit. Those goals being connecting with our residents, building community, and supporting our residents to be academically and personally successful as a student at Tufts. A challenge I had found for our first year BFA students is that we live a bit farther from Medford campus, which I feel may take away from their first year experience. Hence, community building in our Beacon Street community has been very important. In total there are four RA’s who are in charge of roughly 80 residents. Programming is a very important part of this role so we can hold events that benefit our community. So far we’ve done self-care related programming, study sessions, and for the holidays we made hot cocoa and chai. For Halloween, we decorated our buildings and painted mini pumpkins while having too much candy. 

09/19/2022 – Medford/Somerville, Mass. – Houston Hall’s glass atrium glows in the evening dusk as students study and move about on September 19, 2022. (Alonso Nichols/Tufts University)

Many people around me ask why I continue to be an RA (outside of the benefits of housing being covered). I cannot deny the challenges that come with the role in moments of conflict, crisis, or living in the environment that is your job. However, I just love bridging people and communities together. Beacon poses a lot of challenges in comparison to when I was an RA at my undergraduate institution. Even in comparison to Medford campus, we have to change our thought process to serve our residents in a whole different way. Being a prior music major, I understand the challenges of an unconventional education process in comparison to other majors. The challenges are different, so as an RA staff we do our best to make sure the events we hold are meaningful. Being an RA has taught me countless skills that I have been able to hone in my three years of being in housing. And of course, I value all of the connections I have been able to create in my first semester at Tufts in the Beacon Street community. 

This year I am an Assistant Residential Life Coordinator (ARLC) in the Office of Residential Life and Learning (ORLL). I will help with individual neighborhoods within the Medford/Somerville campus, purchasing, and offering leadership development to our RA staff. Working in housing in an institutional setting for my fourth year is a rewarding experience and one I’ve gained many professional skills through. Working in housing has its challenges, but similar to being an RA, the connections you make are everlasting. 

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