Let’s take things back to September of 2017. I had been a student at Berkeley for two weeks and had lived there for only three. I was still trying to get my footing in classes and in the residence halls. As part of our transition into campus, we were asked to have conversations with our RA, or Resident Assistant, sometime within the first few weeks of being on campus. These conversations were called Bear Chats, and I had signed up for one in the second week of September.
On the night of my Bear Chat, I confidently knocked on my RA’s door, and she welcomed me in. She asked me about how my transition was going so far, and what I was getting involved in outside of class. I shared that my experience so far had been relatively good and that I was unsure of what I wanted to do, followed by an awkward pause. I then brought up to her that I was interested in getting involved in Hall Association, the student government body in our residence hall. She excitedly encouraged me to apply, sharing how wonderful an opportunity it was, and then shooed me out of the room to complete the application, which was due that night. Little did I know that this conversation would shape much of my experience as a student and would launch me into involvement in Residential Life on campus.
Serving on Hall Association that year led me to become an RA the following year, and a Senior Resident Assistant (SRA) the year after that. Being involved in Residential Life has been incredibly rewarding; I love helping students transition to Berkeley and supporting them in their endeavors to become personally, professionally, and academically successful. This year, I wanted to further my service to the residential community, so I took on a role in the National Residence Hall Honorary (NRHH) as the Vice President of Development.
Being the VP of Development in NRHH has allowed me to grow as a leader and has challenged me in serving my community further. This past weekend, through this position, I was given the opportunity to attend a Regional Leadership Conference in Portland for leaders in residential life at universities across the Pacific region. We were given the chance to learn about programs and initiatives from colleges and universities across our region and bring ideas back to our home institutions. I feel so lucky to have had this opportunity and to have been able to learn from my peers.
If you’d have asked freshman-year Natasha how she thought getting involved in Hall Association would affect her experience as a Berkeley student, I don’t think she’d have been able to guess even half of it. Being involved in Residential Life has given me the confidence and ability to tackle real-life issues that every leader, no matter their position, comes into contact with at some point; addressing team morality and dynamics, event planning, crisis response and management, self-awareness, and practice with critical and creative thinking. I am so grateful that I got to attend the Regional Leadership Conference and expand on these skills further. Doesn’t hurt that I got to experience a really cool, funky city like Portland at the same time!