New Year, New School, New Adventures

by Katie Yeaton


Today marks the start of my third week as a Resident Director at the University of Southern Maine (USM).  In these three weeks I have gone to my first RA Camp, made countless Spongebob references (I mean is mayonnaise an instrument?), and I have gotten to know every RA on campus.  A part of me is in disbelief we are only in the second week of school, but then again the other half of me is excited for how much there is to do this semester.

When I first interviewed at USM, I felt an immediate connection with the school.  I was looking to work at a public university where I could develop as a professional.  USM was the best fit not only because of this school classification, but because I can truly tell their mission to put students first is at the top of every agenda.  I love the student-focus of the university and, although some may call this the Honeymoon phase of my employment, I feel the university’s student-centered mission creates a motivating community.  As student affairs professionals I think it’s a no-brainer to consider students at the center of our efforts.  It’s when I heard other departments who do not work with students on a daily basis talking about how they can best support our population that I felt this student-centered mission is 100% real.

One aspect I was nervous about when coming to USM from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) was that the rural campus would feel too small and non-diverse.  I am quite happy to say my nerves have been calmed.  USM might be small, but I feel like I am always meeting someone new and I know my residents.  Students, perhaps in light of the rural campus, are more apt to attend weekend programming and I am encouraged by students’ involvement in diversity-enthused groups.  I am stoked to have the Rainbow Floor in my building--a Living Learning Community specifically designed for LGBTQ+ and ally members--because it is one way to support students and encourage them to orchestrate their own programs.  Needless to say, I am wicked excited to see what the Rainbow Floor has planned for this year, as well as our other wonderful student groups.

A second concern I had when moving from Las Vegas to Maine was that nothing would be opened past 9pm and the closest Target to be an hour away.  Well, I was happily surprised to find there are some restaurants open to midnight and the nearest Target is 20 minutes away.  So, Maine may not be Las Vegas, but it is starting to feel like home.  USM is the perfect mix of suburbs and easy access to the city.  Even though it is still tourist season in Portland, I am enjoying the seaside lifestyle.

Overall, my favorite part about being at USM (asides from the people) is the fact I never expected to be here.  I love adventuring into the unknown and meeting new people.  Even though Maine is still fairly close to where I grew up, I feel like I am exploring a new place every day.  Thank you to my RAs, residents, fellow Pro-Staff, and all of USM for making me feel welcomed.  I am pumped to see where this year will take me!

Student Affairs - the First Years

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