By Tessa Castor
After graduating in May, one recent graduate has found her home, once again, in a campus residence hall.
Hanna House, Reid Hall resident director, played volleyball, was in Discipleship and participated in Builder Media when she was a communication student at Southwestern.
She also served as a resident assistant in Cole Hall during her sophomore and junior years, moving off campus during her senior year. Now, House oversees two resident assistants and acts as a “go-to” person for her 70 residents, 15 of whom are women – a large difference from her two previous years in residence life.
“The students here aren’t freshmen,” said House. “They don’t need the same guidance as they did in Cole, and I’m just trying to learn how to best help them now. This past month has been crazy.”
House said that this is the first year in a long time that Reid Hall is full, lacking even one free room. Despite the hall’s full occupancy, House said she hopes to make the building a good, safe environment for her residents, particularly through the programs she offers.
“As a part of the res life staff here in Reid, we build an inviting community for students to learn and live,” said House. “This is really my home now.”
Sarah Hallinan, assistant dean of students and director of residence life, has been with the college for 11 years. Hallinan said she is a “housing nerd” who has “lived on a college campus longer than anyone should.” She said he believes residence life plays a major role in the success of students living on campus, and that Southwestern’s residence life strives for inclusivity.
“I think it’s really important,” said Hallinan. “Residence life is a huge player in retention. Our mission is to meet students where they are and build community. We’re all about growing and learning together.”
Hallinan said that she believes House can connect with her resident assistants and residents, having been both in the past. She said House has done a good job connecting with her two resident assistants, Zach Gray, physical performance and sports studies sophomore, and Maddie Rogers, business administration sophomore.
“Hanna’s great,” said Hallinan. “She really cares about students. She’s in tune with what’s going on with students, and she cares.”
Within residence life, the community aspect is most important, said Hallinan. She said she believes residence life is a built-in support network, one that House represents well.
“Hanna’s so responsible and wise beyond her years,” said Hallinan. “She’s also so grounded. As an introvert, she’s always listening and in tune with others.”
Since move-in day, House said she has enjoyed meeting her residents, though learning their names has not been easy.
“I want to learn everyone’s names and learn who they are,” said House. “As a resident director, I want to get a better understanding of residence life at this level. It’s been a challenge, but it’s been fun.”
Before graduating, House planned to work at a college, either in their residence life department or in admissions. Coincidentally, Danie Brush, assistant director of residence life, contacted House at the end of last semester regarding Reid’s resident director opening, a position the department soon offered House. She accepted the job offer at the end of July, not long before her Aug. 1 move-in day.
Along with her Southwestern job, House works for Cowley Community College’s Mulvane campus as an admissions representative, fulfilling the other side of her future goals. House said she might pursue graduate school in a few years, depending on her experiences to come.
“I wanted to work at a college, either in res life or admissions,” said House. “Now, I’m basically doing both.”
Because House served as a resident assistant for two years and lived off-campus during her senior year, she only spent one year as a resident in Cole Hall.
During her freshman year, House said her favorite resident assistants were Jordan and Jessica Hobbs, former students and current alumni.
House’s goals as a resident director closely follows the values the Hobbs sisters upheld as resident assistants.
“The community they built was super welcoming and inviting,” said House. “Southwestern is so full of hope and a future and excitement. I want my residents to know that my door is always open.”
One of House’s resident assistants, Rogers, is in her first year in residence life. She said she became a resident assistant because of a desire to make an impact in the lives of her residents and to enhance her resume.
“I wanted to help people,” said Rogers. “I’m responsible, so I thought it would be a good fit.”
Rogers said the best part of being a resident assistant has been when her residents rely on her for help, letting her be there for them.
She said she enjoys Reid because of its spacious, unique layout, and that it is easy to get along with her residents. Rogers said that House has taught her to be patient with people, keeping her from overreacting in a situation.
“Hanna’s really sweet,” said Rogers. “It’s really easy to talk to her because she’s younger than most resident directors on campus, so it’s really easy to relate to her. She’s just a fun person and super helpful.”
House said her favorite part of the Builder family is finding lifelong friends and meeting her fiancé, Ethan Ediger, history senior. The two became engaged last Christmas, and their wedding is scheduled for June 2, 2018.
After the wedding, Ediger will move to Reid with House.While not on resident director duty or spending time with her fiancé, House enjoys shooting her bow and arrow at Viola’s 3-D shooting course, Ninnescah Bowhunters Archery Range.
“It’s basically like hunting, but more fun,” said House.
House lives in Reid 102, near the west door of the building. She lives with her hedgehog, Evelyn, who her fiancé bought her last week.
“Hanna has a hedgehog,” said Hallinan. “And it’s amazing.”
Tessa Castor is a sophomore majoring in English. You may email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This was originally published in Volume 130’s 1st edition of The Collegian. To see past Collegian archives click the following link: http://scupdate.org/collegian-archives/