We are always meeting student leaders who are going the extra mile to make others feel welcome and build community culture on their campuses. We realized that one great way to learn from each other is to spotlight different students who have made an impact on the lives of their fellow students.
Meet Katherine Lesnak, a student at Randolph College. She’s a Political Science major and a Head Resident on campus. We asked her about the things she loves on campus and how she gets others involved.
What’s your favorite campus tradition?
My favorite campus tradition is something we call Ring Week. This is when the first-years and juniors come together and get to know each other. The first-years will pick a junior through a lottery system. Then, they craft for each other and decorate doors, and at the end of the week there is a scavenger hunt for the junior class to find their class rings! The juniors also get to find out who their “secret” first year is. Part of the reason that this week is so great is because the first-years get to make friends throughout the week with one another and with the juniors. It helps build a stronger community on the campus.
Have you ever helped someone go from neutral to more engaged?
There was one time my junior year as an RA that I was handling a roommate conflict situation and there was a clear difference between the two roommates. One of the roommates was very loud and opinionated and did not do much to help the other roommate feel a part of the conversation. You could see her head lowering and her body becoming more closed off because she was uncomfortable responding to the loud opinions of her roommate. Once I caught onto this, I began to ask questions directed more at the other roommate about her feelings, worries, etc. Once I subtly allowed for her to speak her mind, she became more engaged in the conversation and built up confidence to talk back and forth with the other roommate. You could see this not only in her language, but also in her body language as she sat straight up, made eye contact, and nodded as others spoke.
What events do you think create the most connections?
The events that I feel work best to connect individuals are the ones that allow for a sharing of experiences, stories, etc. and bringing that all around a common theme. For example, if there is an event that is for cancer awareness, individuals are able to come together talk about their experiences and grow closer through their stories.
There’s no better feeling than that of finding ways to help others feel welcome. Have you ever encouraged fellow students to come out of their shells and build their confidence?