July 18, 2019 | 72° F

Rutgers Resident Hall Association holds professional leadership conference for students

Photo by Jeffrey Gomez |

About 250 people attended the Rutgers Housing Association's leadership seminar this Saturday, which focused on developing vital professional skills.

The Rutgers Residence Hall Association (RHA) hosted Professional Development Day this past Saturday. The event pushed students outside their comfort zones in pursuit of greater leadership skills including workshops, games and team competition.

Resourcefulness, optimism, authenticity and dependability are but a few of the goals Dominique Little, director of leadership development for RHA, set forth for this year’s event.

“It was great,” she said. “About 250 people attended the event. Students were engaged and excited to be there. I was able to sit in on a few of the sessions. It was awesome to see that students were willing to go outside their comfort zones to build their leadership skills.”

The event included a photo booth and banner and hall chant competitions, Little said. Students quickly got involved in chanting, with added choreography and prize baskets awarded to first place.

Building business and social relationships is an integral part of RHA, Little said. One of the ways the organization does this is by building community from within the halls. This can only be done by encouraging students to get to know each other through attending programs and sharing ideas.

The organization includes a mix of professional staff including Resident Life residence assistants, apartment assistants and RHA’s executive board, Executive President of RHA Chanel Jordan said.

“Our motto is to bring home to the halls,” she said.

Little said that she is responsible for three RHA events including fall and spring leadership development days and an end of year banquet.

Planning for the event involved booking rooms, contacting presenters, sending emails and organization revolving around this year’s “Wizard of Oz” theme, she said.

Little said the organization tries to ensure that newly elected student leaders know they have a home in RHA at the University.

“I personally met my best friends through the organization and I want other students to do the same,” she said.

RHA programs are non-major restrictive and speak about overall leadership skills such as conflict resolution, event planning and public speaking, Little said.

Jordan said student engagement was active and the event was handled well by the organization.

Jordan said that she helped decorate and organize the event spearheaded by Little. Her efforts, in conjunction with the executive boards, were in service of Little’s vision for what the event could be.

“I've been going since my freshman year and I honestly believe they get better and better,” Jordan said. “You get new perspectives as the years go on or you test different ideas and you find ways to make things better for the student leaders and all of the attendees.”

Students were encouraged to network over lunch, Jordan said. The camaraderie between them was alive and well as competition ensued between groups.

“There will always be students who may not understand the bigger picture of our organization, but it's always amazing to see students getting invested in what they can do through RHA,” she said.

Through the event, students were able to build connections with their hall advisors, hall governments and the other members of the organization, Jordan said. The organization encourages students to build connections that extend past their residence hall and the campus they live on.

RHA wants students to work with professionals while intertwining friendships they make along the way, she said. The work students do on campus is truly incredible, they help shape the campus community and effect positive change.

“As one of my friends have said, you need to know your value and add tax,” she said.

Events like this are primed to build on the value of friendship and leadership, Jordan said. As students grow their skills are recycled into the campus environment for others to learn from.

“Leadership development day is meant for that,” she said. “It’s a day for students to learn more about themselves and add value to their positions as on-campus leaders, and then learn how to extend that value to other on-campus students."

Christian Zapata

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