A place to hang one's hat
Residence hall involvement can boost student success, enhance résumés
Students living on campus need look no further than their own residence halls for opportunities to build valuable leadership skills.
With hopes to attend law school and then perform advocacy work, Liz Mills, a sophomore political science major from Johnston, Iowa, got involved in her residence hall’s government, Associated Daum, soon after arriving at Iowa her first year. This year, she decided to help on a larger scale by serving as executive director of Associated Residence Halls (ARH), the student governing body for the residence halls.
“In ARH, we work with leaders of all 10 residence hall associations to help them improve their halls and give them the resources they need to develop educational and social programming,” says Mills. “I’ve learned just how diverse Iowa is—in personalities and backgrounds—and how important it is to reach out to students and make Iowa feel like home to them.”
ARH members create policy to improve the campus living experience and plan social and educational events to build community in the halls. Mills says the experience she has gained running large meetings, organizing programming, and working both with peers and UI officials has been invaluable and will be an asset in her professional life.
“I’m more comfortable working with administrators and getting involved in things I don’t know much about,” she says.
Another organization close to home for those who live on campus is the National Residence Hall Honorary (NRHH), a select group of about 50 students who make up the top 1 percent of students living in the residence halls. Members are chosen in the spring based on grade-point average (GPA) and an application process.
The group focuses on four pillars: recognition, scholarship, service, and leadership. Two of its primary activities are Saturdays in Service, a monthly event in which students engage in community service, and Of The Month Awards, monthly recognition of outstanding students, staff, and programs in the residence halls.
“Not only have I picked up leadership and time-management skills, I’ve learned what my leadership style is and how to guide a group of people,” says Morgan Miller, a senior elementary education major from North English, Iowa, who serves as NRHH president. “I’ve also learned how to communicate better. To overcome barriers, you must possess a positive and effective communication style.”
Ryan McFadden, student leadership coordinator for University Housing & Dining, encourages all campus residents to get involved in these residence hall activities. The benefits, he says, go beyond the development of important life skills.
“Students who are involved are more likely to stay at the university, they have higher GPAs, and they’re building community and friendships,” he says. “In addition, they can make a difference on campus.”
To learn more, visit: housing.uiowa.edu/get-involved