Housing and Residence Life selects 2019-20 co-chairs

Third-year Engineering student Nick Smith and third-year College student Adriana Allen will be holding the position during the 2019-2020 school year

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Third-year College student Adriana Allen (left) and third-year Engineering student Nick Smith (right) will serve as the Resident Staff Co-Chairs for the 2019-20 academic year.

Courtesy Adriana Allen and Nick Smith

Third-year Engineering student Nick Smith and third-year College student Adriana Allen are the incoming Co-Chairs of the University’s Housing and Residence Life program for the 2019-2020 school year, according to the outgoing Co-Chairs fourth-year Engineering student Nikhith Kalkunte and fourth-year Curry school student Moises Mendoza.

Co-Chairs are expected not only to lead the Resident Staff Program in tandem with the Housing and Residence Life professional staff, but also develop, articulate and affirm the Resident Staff program’s goals, according to the description on the Housing and Residence Life website

Co-Chairs are required to have one year of Senior Resident experience or two years of experience as an RA.  During her first year as an RA, Allen worked in the Balz-Dobie dormitory and is currently an RA in the Spanish House. Smith is currently the SR for Faulkner, a community in which he was an RA previously.

In an email statement to The Cavalier Daily, Allen explained she signed up to be a Resident Advisor to make her residents feel more at home. 

“I wanted to make dorms a home — I actually have a sign on my door that says ‘home is where they love you,’ so I wanted to provide that unconditional love and support for new students,” Allen said.

Smith was inspired to be an RA because of his positive experience as a first-year with the advisors in his dorm.

“I wanted to be apart of Housing and Residence Life as an RA, because the advisers in my dorm were so empowering. Specifically, Bryan Solvie,” Smith explained in an email statement to The Cavalier Daily.

Smith is still in contact with Solvie, who he still asks for advice.

“The impact he had on me first-year, inspired me to become an RA and have similar interactions with the Class of 2021,” Smith said to The Cavalier Daily.

Allen plans to focus her attention specifically on upper-class and residential college housing after attending the Virginia College and University Housing Officers Conference, an annual conference where students learn and develop leadership skills, in November 2018.

“I’ve taken a specified approach and hope to look at what the upper class and residential college experiences look like and make changes to improve them,” Allen said.

Allen sees the upcoming development at Brandon Avenue as a good way of further understanding the upper-class housing experience.

“I would like to ... better understand what the upper class and residential college experience looks like. We’re expanding our upper-class housing with the Brandon Avenue project, and I think this would be a great opportunity to review that experience,” Allen said to The Cavalier Daily.

Smith is excited to continue the work from his predecessors, Kalunte and Mendoza, but has goals of his own as well. 

“I want to put more of an emphasis on enriching the residential experience … I want to address specific community needs and start projects to evaluate what different associations lack or excel in,” Smith said.

Kalunte and Mendoza explained the process behind applying to be a co-chair — saying that “candidates go through a competitive application and interview process.”

According to Allen, there is a written application, one interview in front of a committee of over 20 people and another interview in front of professional staff in HRL and the Office of the Dean of Students.

“The process really gives you a chance to see the program as a whole,” Smith said.

When asked to describe their experiences as co-chairs, Mendoza and Kalunte both touched on the uniqueness of the experience as well as their personal growth in developing leadership skills. 

“As the leader of an agency organization, you are filling a role that at other universities would be held by a professional staffer,” Kalunte explained in an email to The Cavalier Daily.

Mendoza also noted he hopes to have made a “positive impact on the U.Va. experience of as many students as possible”. 

“I am confident that Nick and Adriana will continue to develop a constructive and helpful space for all of our staffers and residents; I can’t wait to see them continue to push this program and our University forward,” Mendoza said. 

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