By Kate Tattan
Name: Amy Mason
Position: Residence Life Director for Wasylean Hall
New Worcester Spy: Where are you from originally?
Amy Mason: “I’m from Massachusetts. I grew up in a small town called Halifax. It’s really close to Bridgewater State and about fifteen minutes from Plymouth. So I’ve been in Massachusetts pretty much my whole life.”
NWS: Where did you go to school?
AM: “I went to college at UMass Dartmouth, so that’s why I love public colleges and universities, and work at one. I actually went to Springfield College for my Master’s in Higher Education Administration, so I knew at kind of a young age that I always wanted to work on a college campus.”
NWS: How did you land this particular job?
AM: “I’ve actually been in Residence Life for about three and a half years before coming here, so I’ve gained a lot of experience. At Springfield College, I was working that same job while I was getting my Master’s degree, and then I worked full-time in New Hampshire for two years. I transitioned back to Massachusetts because I missed it so much!”
NWS: What is your daily routine?
AM: “The beauty of Residence Life is that everyday is different. We do a lot of work-order maintenance – that’s kind of how we start the day. We make sure all the buildings are in tip-top shape. So, if a student does have a concern, if it’s a lock issue or a safety concern—that’s kind of one of our first priorities of the day. We make sure facilities [and faculty] know what’s going on for safety measures.
Then we do meetings with all of the RA’s, to make sure they’re well-trained. We make sure they get to debrief any crisis scenarios they’re dealing with. We do a lot of roommate mediations and meetings for apartments as well. We are also judicial officers. So if any students are violating policy, we’re conducting judicial meetings to make sure they understand what the policy is, and to go through any necessary sanctions that might incur.
We also plan events and late-night programming initiatives. We run the “Late Night Lancer” on Thursday nights. Then we’re also doing kind of small community work assignments. I’m directing the play The Vagina Monologues as sort of my special Res-Life project. It’s nice because we can take on assignments that fit our personalities and our future career goals.
I also work part time in Career Services here. I love helping students get their resumes critiqued, and I make sure that they’re getting internships. So, right now, I wear several hats. I love working on a college campus—just trying to live the dream.”
NWS: How long have you worked here at WSU?
AM: “A year and a half.”
NWS: What is your favorite part about your job?
AM: “I would say putting the students first, and making that a true priority every day, because there’s so much that happens in Res-Life. You’re helping with different measures that are going on that are emergencies, like when the LRC had a threat that had to be addressed – we needed to kind of jump into action immediately.
But we can’t forget, the whole point is to make sure students are getting the best education they can, and that they’re developing intentional relationships. That’s a huge part of why I value my job. It’s so easy to only have one or two really close friends and that be the only thing you do throughout college—just stay with those four friends—which is fine! But to develop a network that you have throughout your life in a college setting…this is where you have the most people of your same age, pursuing the same goals. They can be networks later on in life, like starting an entrepreneurial group.
There’s just so much that can happen with the relationships you establish when you’re young. I don’t want students to ever lose that. I like to make sure that’s at the forefront of discussions.”
NWS: Being a residential director can’t be the easiest job out there. What would you say is the hardest part?
AM: “Well, I would say that it is a unique position living in a staff apartment on a college campus as a professional. Definitely a bittersweet dynamic where you’re provided a free apartment that’s beautiful and well-maintained, and basically fully furnished. Kudos to all the schools that provide staff apartments, it’s an incredible benefit—but on the other side of the coin, it’s hard to separate work and your personal life because you’re literally living where you work, and my office is in the same building that my apartment is. It’s literally a minute walk down the hallway. So, it can be tough to say ‘when am I working’ and ‘when am I not working?’ But you know that when you pick a job in Res-Life. You know that you’re kind of almost always on. Which is nice, to know that you’re seen as a leader on campus.”
NWS: What’s something about you outside of work that no one would ever guess?
AM: “I don’t do it right now, but I did it throughout my entire life—I owned horses while I was growing up as a kid, and I rode on the Varsity Equestrian Team at UMass Dartmouth. I was the captain of the team. If I could go back and re-live that every day, I would, because it was just a perfect experience.
Now, later in life, I ask students and even professionals how they are keeping their college passions alive. It’s something interesting and valuable to me. When I was in grad school, I volunteered for two years at a rescue facility for horses, but they were also doing therapy work and rehab. It’s such a nice opportunity to give back to a sport that had been such a big part of my life for so many years.”
NWS: What’s something about your job position that no one would ever guess you do/did?
AM: “Well, we’re actually given the opportunity if we so choose to put in a proposal or write some sort of professional development plan, where you can, say, if you wanted to teach a course on campus. It’s a really unique opportunity for staff members to be able to be in the classroom with students. I’ve actually taught two courses now at Worcester State. I taught Mental Health and I taught a “Special Topics” class on Malcolm Gladwell. It was wonderful, because I actually partnered with an adjunct 10-year faculty member. It’s been wonderful to actually be in the classroom, and probably no one knows that I even did that.”