Resident Assistant Reflects on How Trinity College Became a Second Home

Ursula Paige Granirer ’17 Chose to ‘Pay it Forward’ as an RA to First-Year Students

​Hartford, Connecticut, May 4, 2016 – After two years as a resident assistant at Trinity College, I know that being an RA is about more than just asking students to turn down their music. As an RA, you get to play an important role in establishing a safe, supportive community environment that encourages the academic, personal, and social development of all students. RAs are also in charge of running events for the residence hall – anything from alcohol education and coloring book de-stressers to bringing in coffee and breakfast during class registration mornings. But where I take pride in being an RA is my accessibility to my residents. They know they can knock on my door any hour of the day or night, whether a resident has gotten locked out of their room or just needs a hug.

Resident Assistant Ursula Paige Granirer ’17
​Resident Assistant Ursula Paige Granirer ’17
Trinity’s Office of Residential Life excels at hiring resident assistants who truly care. “I’ve always loved helping people and doing whatever I could to make sure they were happy,” said Bianca Shea ’18, an RA in Elton. “I love being in a first-year residence hall, helping girls with everything from homesickness to their classes.” One of Shea’s favorite memories is how a resident texted her one night to ask if they could talk. “We ended up spending two hours chatting about everything from our home towns to our classes. I just loved that she felt she could reach out to me and just talk, and from that we were able to create this friendship,” she said. “That’s the best part about it: I get to meet new people and I know I’m making an impact.”

Nick Constantine ’17, an upperclassman RA in Vernon Place, said, “I like helping people, and being an RA put me in a position to do so. I also feel that I can connect well with people.” Constantine explained that being a part of Residential Life creates bonds both between fellow staff members and with residents. “I loved the feeling of family that we created,” he said.

Associate Dean of Students Robert Lukaskiewicz said that being an RA comes with its share of challenges. “The RA role is a difficult one; RAs see students at their best as well as during times of personal adversity. Philosophically, I like to believe that students don’t necessarily choose for themselves to become an RA; rather, the RA role chooses them. When that happens, it is the very best kind of student leadership.” He also noticed that the RA community tends to be a perpetuating cycle of students filling the RA role because they themselves were inspired by an outstanding RA.

Wrapping up my junior year here at Trinity, I am starting to reminisce about the past three years spent ’neath the elms. Coming to Trinity was no easy task; moving from California and knowing only a handful of people was new territory for me. I will readily admit that during my matriculation, I asked the student next to me who spoke with a thick accent where in Australia he was from, to which he responded, “I’m from Boston.”

Despite the painfully obvious culture gap between me and the native New Englanders, I found myself referring to Trinity as home, even when sitting on the beach with friends back in California. But that was not an overnight transition; it took months of trying to meet new people, joining new clubs, practicing every day with the Trinity Women’s Rowing Team, and spending time with my RAs. At the end of my first year, when the housing lottery rolled around, I had the option to live with friends, but instead I declined, as I chose to become an RA and was assigned to North Campus. To me, this was the opportunity to pay it forward.

Being a first-year RA, although terrifying at first, gave me the biggest support group I have ever had. Even though it took time, my residents learned that I would always be there for them, just as they would always be there for me. Last spring my childhood dog, Winnie the Pooch, passed away, and many people on my floor brought me chocolate and tea. At the time, I wanted nothing more than to be home with my family, but as I sat in my room surrounded by residents, food, and Disney movies, I realized that I was already home. Even though we all came from different towns, played different sports, and studied different subjects, we were a family. There are times when residents tell me that they couldn’t have done it without me, and as cliché as it sounds, the feeling is mutual. 

Written by Ursula Paige Granirer ’17

To learn more about Residential Life at Trinity College, click here.