AIC’s campus was buzzing with Resident Assistants last month during the 6th annual 413 Area RA Conference. The conference has occurred at AIC since 2015, and this year the event fell on February 22.
Katelyn Hurley, the Coordinator of Student Life at AIC, participated in the conference as the Graduate School Showcase chair. She described the event as “a way to bring together all the Residence Life staff in the greater New England area to a conference where students can really hone their skills, talk to their peers, professionally develop, network, and even do mock interviews. It’s built to really help Residence Life staff.”
The conference began with activist Caitlin Clarkson Pereira as keynote speaker, followed by a series of workshops and sessions for both students and professionals who attended the conference. The conference also featured vendors and graduate school fairs to aid in professional development. The day came to a close with a speech from Springfield College’s Vice President for Student Affairs, Patrick Love.
Hurley’s position as Graduate School Showcase chair had her working with different graduate schools for the 413 Conference’s first large-scale graduate school fair.
She said, “We reached out to all the local New England colleges and their graduate schools to see if anyone would be interested in coming because we understand that a lot of our upperclassmen Residence Life staff are looking to continue their education, and we wanted to start that conversation at this type of conference.”
The various student sessions covered a wide range of topics, including many that were aimed toward helping Residence Life staff in their work, both pre- and post-graduation.
Shawn Tremblay, AIC’s Associate Director for Student Life as well as co-chair of the conference, spoke about the participants’ experience. “They’re not only going to workshops and presentations related to the work that they do in their role,” Tremblay said, “but also helping them grow on a more broad scale. One of the sessions this year was ‘I Can’t Afford to Graduate,’ so it was all about tracking their budget and income to make sure that after graduation, they’re successful financially and able to live within their means.”
Another topic discussed was “Across the World: Supporting International Students,” which was presented by junior sports management major Jordyn Isaac. She explained how she became involved in the conference. “Going into my second semester on staff, I felt much more confident with my abilities,” Isaac said. “And with the help of my Resident Director, Jenfrey Florentino and Shawn Tremblay, I thought it would be a great opportunity to present on a topic close to home.”
Isaac explained that she is currently the only international student on AIC’s Residence Life staff. She wanted to share her experience and knowledge with other RA’s. Isaac described her presentation as “diving into what international students go through, and the ways that Resident Advisors can really help them.” She added, “Presenting at the 413 RA Conference was an incredible experience, and I look forward to attending in the future.”
Shawn Tremblay also commented on how the conference has grown since it began. “It started six years ago with humble beginnings with representatives from Western New England, from Springfield College, and AIC,” he said. “And it has since grown to include colleges and universities from twenty-four different institutions, and over 200 registered attendees.”
Tremblay touched on how the growth of the conference shows the impact it has on all those involved. “I think people are getting something really unique out of our experience,” he said, adding that participants “are really seeing the value and coming back year to year.”
That impact is echoed with Jordyn Isaac’s summary of her experience at the 413 Area RA Conference. She said, “Nobody really understands what it is like being a Resident Advisor besides other Resident Advisors. So the opportunity to network and connect to RA’s from different schools really helps create a bond that is super hard to explain to anyone outside of Residence Life. You choose what sessions you go to, and often these sessions can provide skills and techniques that make you a better RA–but also a better leader.”
The conference committee is always looking for more students and professionals to get involved. For more information, visit 413arearaconference.com and follow @413conference on social media.
Video Credits: Photography of event by Mariah Mauke and Samira Abdul-Karim. Stock photo from AP Photo/Mark Lennihan.