Sophomore strives to provide some kind of normal
By Corynn Christjansen
As a freshman, Maya Fulton enjoyed spending her free time with the students on her residence hall floor and attending dorm-sponsored events. The memories she created attending ice cream socials and game nights with her new friends made her first year of college a memorable one.
Fulton, a sophomore entomology major from Bloomington, Indiana, had such a great experience living in her former residence hall that she applied for and accepted a position as a new resident assistant (or RA) in Owen Hall.
Her goal was to help residents create special memories like the ones she made her freshman year, she said. What she did not expect was the rise of COVID-19 and how it could affect her plans.
“I really feel for my freshman residents who don’t have a lot of opportunities to meet new people,” Fulton said. “Even though they live with these people they can’t always see them in person, which can make for an overall rougher transition into college.,”
Fulton explained further that many of the usual activities that the resident assistants would have held were cancelled to maintain social distancing guidelines. This upset Fulton, because she remembered how much she enjoyed the activities her previous RA had for her and her floor mates.
Despite all of the normal face-to-face dorm activities being cancelled, she took it upon herself to spearhead several socially distanced activities for the sake of her residents. She helped to organize socially distanced painting nights, so that the students on her floor could actively engage with students outside of the classroom setting.
“It’s basically an opportunity for me to interact with my residents, and also for them to interact with each other,” Fulton said.
Fulton explained that she would gather the materials that everyone would need to participate, and then deliver them outside everyone’s door before the event started. Then everyone gathered online to talk and paint together. Fulton expressed how she loves the work that she does, and it makes her happy to help the people around her.
She understands the importance of “being social when I can,” and her activities were her way of helping her residents stay social at a distance.
She also hoped that the coloring and paper snowflake cutting sessions that she organized helped create a sense normalcy for the 46 residents she looks after.
Fulton believes that becoming a resident assistant during the pandemic has given her the opportunity to grow in a leadership role. Creating inclusive activities and programs her students can enjoy in the age of social distancing has proved to be challenging. However, she has gladly accepted this challenge.
Since the beginning of this academic year, Fulton has sponsored weekly meetings where the students gather to watch movies, craft, or play video games.
While Fulton understands that these programs are not a replacement for the activities she and countless others experienced before the pandemic, she still wants to do all that she can to help the residents on her floor.
These freshmen did not get the full college experience, Fulton said. That’s one reason she pushed both herself and her residents to be more social.
“It doesn’t feel like a job, it is more like a lifestyle in a way,” Fulton explained.
She has effectively developed strong relationships with the residents on her floor and has shown great leadership by organizing activities for the sake of those around her. It is her hope that due to her efforts she has helped her residents create lasting memories their first year of college.