Not Your Everyday RA
By Emily Fisher
As a freshman living in the dorms at a brand new university, life can be a little overwhelming. There are crowds of new people, cramped living spaces, and what seems to be a non-existent bedtime. Without parents around, who’s there to help all of these young college students? That’s where Paige Ritzman comes in, the smiling confident face down at the end of the hallway.
Paige, who has been a residential assistant, or RA, for two years now is the type of person you would feel comfortable going to with a problem. The University of Nevada, Reno is where she calls home. Now a junior at the Reynolds School of Journalism, Paige has a lot on her plate. Not only is she juggling coursework and getting close to her final year as an undergraduate student, Paige has about 350 noisy freshman asking her for help with school, teachers, and life.
Though she admits that it is a time commitment, Paige has been dedicated to being the best RA she can be since her first year as an RA in Manzanita Hall. Paige first got interested in becoming a residential assistant after her freshman year in Nye Hall where she had a really influential RA, MaryLyn Silverstein, who acted as a kind of “mom” to her, helping her get adjusted to college life and socialize with new people. Paige says she really looked up to her RA. “…[She] really made me want to further that to other students,” Paige says.
That is exactly what Paige is doing. Not only has Paige been an RA for two different years, which is not common with most RAs, she also started a blog called “How to ResLife” to help not only students at UNR but those attending other universities as well. As a journalism student Paige was always looking for ways to get experience, and the first idea that came to her head was a blog.
As she sat down and started looking through different blogs about residential life she noticed they were all tailored to specific universities. She knew then what she could do to set her blog apart from the others. Instead of a blog about just UNR, Paige’s blog is about all ResLife, on any campus.
One of her most recent and favorite projects, which she talks proudly about on her blog, is her ‘Micro-Aggressions Project.’ Micro-Aggressions as Paige explains it are “words that are used in daily languages that have alternative meanings…” Take the word ‘gay’ for example, or the saying it is often used in, “that’s so gay.” Paige explains that people typically mean to say “that’s so dumb,” but instead choose to use micro-aggressions which can offend people.
Paige knows college freshman have a tendency to not attend informational sessions and decided to take a more passive approach to teaching residents about micro-aggressions. Posters and message boards scattered throughout the halls and elevators in the Living Learning Center, the dorm Paige works in, informing people on different types of micro-aggressions, and what words to use instead. Paige not only overhears some of her residents talking about the posters and learning new words to use but also catches herself in daily conversation.
Taking an idea, implementing it, and making a difference is something that being a RA should be all about, and there is no question that Paige Ritzman has done that. Not only has Paige dedicated herself to helping residents, but she is actively trying to make a positive impact on the communities they live in. Paige says…
“I really love the residents and seeing them progress through different stages, they grow so much…and I like helping them find the best ways they can improve.”