Twenty-two-year-old Morgan Hopkins from Pittsburgh is one of Weber State University’s longest standing resident assistants at Wildcat Village. Beginning in 2011, Hopkins said she enjoys her job and that it has granted her the opportunity to form connections with residents and colleagues.
Resident assistants, also known as RAs, are persons designated to aid the campus housing community. Some of their duties include handling check-ins and check-outs, lock-outs and helping in an emergency. RAs also look out for students’ well-being, ensure that housing rules are adhered to and organize social events for residents.
Hopkins, a double major in social work and music, said she was frightened when she moved to Utah because she was in a new environment. Her decision to become an RA eased the transition process and enabled her to become more socially active.
“The longer I’ve been an RA, the more friends I’ve made,” Hopkins said. “I’ve been able to come out of my shell and just open up to people instantly.”
Being so far away from home, Hopkins said many of her friends at WSU have become like family and have provided love and support when she needed it most.
“I’ve met some of my best friends here while being an RA and the staff are my family out here,” Hopkins said. “They have stepped in as my brothers and sisters when I needed something and I return the favor when they need it. We’re just each other’s support system.”
Brande Bernat supervises and works directly with the RAs at housing and has had much experience with Hopkins.
“(Morgan is) free-spirited and a lot of fun,” Bernat said. “She’s the type of person who, when she comes in, if people are down or are not smiling and the room is serious, she tries to lighten up the atmosphere.”
Alongside the many duties of an RA there are also some challenges. According to Hopkins, she is perceived as unapproachable because RAs are seen as authority figures within the housing community.
Kendra Nelson, a senior RA at University Village, has been Hopkins’s coworker for the past three years and throughout the years their coworker relationship blossomed into a friendship.
Although both Nelson and Hopkins reside and are assigned to work at two different housing units, they were able to maintain a close friendship. Though it isn’t always easy, Nelson said she and Hopkins spend time together everyday.
According to Hopkins, her tenure as an RA has equipped her with the necessary tools for postgraduate life. She has been encouraged to hold friends accountable for their actions and not to mix friendship with business. Jessica Keomalu, one of Hopkins’s coworkers, said Hopkins doesn’t only hold friends accountable for their actions but herself as well.
“I see Morgan as a mentor,” Keomalu said. “I believe I can learn from her wisdom as she readily shares her knowledge.”