Posted December 6, 2012

Confidence, compassion define Temple resident assistants


Resident assistants (RAs) are often described as the backbone of Temple University Housing and Residential Life.

Serving as a liaison between student affairs administration and Temple's resident population, the RA role has many dimensions, ranging from traffic cop to trusted advisor.

Licinia "Lulu" Barrueco Kaliher, who recruits and selects resident assistants as assistant director of the Office of Residential Life, says the job requires students who are positive, mature and credible, with a high degree of empathy.

“You deal with the highs and you deal with the lows,” she said. “Anything from ‘I just don’t know where my classes are’ to ‘I want to break up with my boyfriend and I need someone to talk to.’”

“We are looking for people who have a caring disposition, who really want to make a difference to their local communities and their residential communities, who know how to balance academics with the care of their residents and, lastly, someone who has passion and desire to reach their own goals,” she said.

Aisha Folkes, an RA in 1940 Residence Hall, notes that she has helped her residents with everything from picking out clothes before a date to making sure they dress professionally for a job interview.

“We’re kind of like the eyes and ears of the building,” she said.

Indeed, it’s a job that demands 24/7 attention, said Brian Maher, an RA in Temple Towers.

“We’re here when they want to have fun, we’re here when they have struggles; we are always doing something to reach out to our residents,” he said.

The confidence and good nature it takes to become an RA makes the students who hold the position a fun group to work with, says Barrueco Kaliher.

“They are real individuals,” she said. “They make you laugh. They are so excited and passionate about the position, about the students, about living here at Temple. They are truly Temple Made."