Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Leadership lived: Resident assistant helps students feel at home

Da Zhane' Sinclair says the University of Illinois Springfield “feels like home” and the friends she’s made on campus are like family.

Sinclair, a senior accountancy major, is a resident assistant (RA) on campus and mentors fellow first-generation college students as part of the Necessary Steps Mentoring Program.

“I enjoy being an RA because I am a people person, so communicating with people and helping them is why I became an RA,” she said.

As an RA, Sinclair regularly plans social events to help her fellow students feel welcome. She recently hosted the “Sip and Craft” event where students living on campus over the summer and Summer Bridge Program students came together to make crafts using boards, nails and yarn.

Sinclair, who is from Chicago, attended a charter high school where she got individual attention from teachers on a smaller campus. At UIS, she feels she’s getting the same level attention.

“Like my charter school, I can communicate with my professors here and build relationships. It’s like a family,” she said.

Being an RA has taught her many lessons about communicating with others, crisis mediation, event planning and budgeting for events.

“UIS taught me that you have to jump outside the box,” she said. “You have to stand out and be the first person to raise your hand, even if at times you don’t want to.”

Following graduation from UIS, Sinclair would like to open her own non-profit that helps women and children. She feels well-prepared by her UIS education.

“I’ve been able to do things that I didn’t think I was going to be able to do,” she said. “I never pictured myself being an RA. I never pictured myself actually doing things that I’ve done so far.”

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