Assistant residential life coordinator prioritizes student success

Gabriella Pinos/Assistant Entertainment Director

There’s nothing more important to Assistant Residential Life Coordinator Cassidy Cook than her students.

“I always make sure that my students are my top priority,” said Cook.

As an ARLC at Panther Hall, FIU’ first-year dorm, Cook supervises desk and resident assistants and handles administrative responsibilities. At night, she’s on duty making rounds in the residence hall and ensuring student safety.

“Sometimes we have very, very long days, trainings are always long, we have duty, all those different things, but it always works out in the end,” said Cook.

Cook’s love for residential life began when she was a resident assistant for two years Southern New Hampshire University.

“I got to work with different kinds of students, a lot of first generation students, a lot of international students, and I considered it a cool opportunity to get to know about different kinds of people, and then I loved it so much that I just kept going,” said Cook.

Now a graduate student at FIU studying higher education administration, Cook said the residential life experience here is different from what she’s experienced before. The students she supervises, for instance, follow a residential curriculum, which involve students in personal development and community service activities.

“We have goals, we have outcomes that we want our students to achieve while they’re living with us,” said Cook.

The main ways the residential life staff involve students include community-wide events, one-on-one interactions and community traditions, which are programs RAs put on every week for their students. Interacting with students, according to Cook, allows them to learn a lesson from the activities held in the hall.

“We try and make it so that they take something away from it,” said Cook.

In her role as ARLC, Cook also works closely with the students she supervises. She currently serves as an advisor for the dorm’s Hall Council, where she oversees the budget and ideas created by the council’s executive board.

“For the most part they [the executive board] come up with stuff on their own, which is awesome to see students providing back to other students,” said Cook.

Not only does the constant interaction with students make them learn from the curriculum, it’s also the reason why Cook enjoys her position.

“I [like] me being able to help students, being able to relate to them and [having them] see you as someone you can trust,” said Cook.

Apart from her responsibilities as an ARLC, Cook is a part of Panther Hall’s Residential Assistant Recruitment Committee, where she creates interview questions and vets the selection process for resident assistants. For her, any student with energy and a passion for helping others would be a good candidate for an RA.

“We look for students who want a new type of leadership and learning opportunity,” said Cook.

Cook is also a part of the hall’s Sexual Assault Education and Prevention Committee, which hosted a social media campaign in Fall 2018 about sexual assault on college campuses. The committee is planning to host a large-scale event sometime in Spring 2019.

The different activities she does allows Cook to interact with students and get them interested in residential life.

“I think it’s fun because it kind of gives me a different opportunity outside of my general position,” said Cook.

Although her position involves working long hours and managing different personalities and characteristics, Cook said working at residential life has been rewarding, both professionally and personally.

“I think it’s a field that many people don’t really understand unless they’re in it, but it’s a great opportunity to help people, and it’s a great opportunity to learn a lot about yourself,” said Cook.

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