Educating a diverse population in the liberal arts

For personal, professional and global responsibility

In the tradition of the Sisters of Notre Dame

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Notre Dame College residence hall leaders have completed two weeks of intense training to prepare to welcome this year’s new and returning students to campus.

The resident assistants (RAs) participate in an intense application and training process every year, not just during the COVID-19 pandemic. They become Safe Zone allies to build LBGTQ+ awareness, attend a racial equity workshop, and learn tools for working with students in crisis. They also spend time on practical matters such as room keys, on-call duties and moving furniture into residence hall rooms.

“I never really realized how much RAs provide so much safety and security on campus–any type of safety, even personal safety,” said Chéan White, a junior RA.

This year the RAs studied campus COVID-19 protocols and how to convey those to other students. The College is taking extra steps to ensure that its residence halls are as safe as possible and to limit the exposure and spread of COVID-19 while continuing to deliver the highly personal face-to-face education and residential experience students have said they prefer.

The campus community, faculty and staff as well as students, also signed a Falcon Family Pledge, an acknowledgement that members have read and understand the expectations set forth by the College and agreeing to do their part to help keep our community as safe as possible.

“One thing about training that I felt was significantly important was patience. I look forward to . . . finding ways to connect with residents in a time like this,” said Aaron Bastick, also a junior RA.

Cultivating Interaction

Lead RA students for the 2020-2021 academic year senior Macie Snider and juniors Logan Reedy and Mikel Wilson also presented to their peers about leadership and interactions with residential community members.

“One thing I learned from training is the importance of the manner in which I communicate with people and the importance of listening,” said Jeff Mutuku, a sophomore serving as an RA.

About 600 students moved in to the College’s five on-campus residence halls prior to the start of fall semester courses this year.

“I am looking forward to . . . being able to meet new people and build relationships with different students,” said Madeline Cook, who is also a sophomore RA.

Undergraduate students are nominated by faculty and staff and then participate in an application and interview process as well as the training before becoming RAs.

Building Community

RAs live in the residence halls and build community, serve as peer mentors and role models, provide crisis response and academic connections and work on committees to assist the residence life office with administrative functions.

“I am looking forward to creating a community on my floor with my residents and being a mentor,” said sophomore RA Tony Healy.

Resident Assistants provide an inclusive learning environment that encourages interaction among residents and peers.

“One thing I learned from training was openness not only for myself but to other people, to live and grow in community even with a variety of differences,” said Maddy Cataldo, a junior RA.

They embrace the role of a campus resource guide for students within the halls and identifies their academic, personal and social needs.

Developing Expertise

RAs at the College also provide first response to student issues and concerns within the halls and collaborate on and promote academic events, resources and processes.

“Something that I learned during our training is how to help someone that is emotionally stressed,” said Nico Vitantonio, another junior RA. “This can include checking in on them more, helping them find a club, going to the Counseling Center and showing them that you care for them.”

Each RA is in charge of a different floor in the residence halls. At Notre Dame, RAs also are expected to be involved in many campus activities. They are supervised by Avery Ware, director of residence life, and Danielle Thompson, assistant director of residence life and student engagement.

“I was able to learn more about…how to build a relationship with someone I don’t know,” said sophomore RA Catherine Thomas. “I can’t wait to see how well our Notre Dame community will come together to keep our students and staff safe during this time!”

August 2020
Anita Yoder and Ted Steiner contributed to this story.

About Notre Dame College

For almost a century, Notre Dame College has educated a diverse population in the liberal arts for personal, professional and global responsibility. Founded by the Sisters of Notre Dame in 1922, the College has grown strategically to keep pace with the rapidly changing needs of students and the dramatic changes in higher education. But it has never lost sight of its emphasis on teaching students not only how to make a good living but also how to live a good life.

Today, the College offers bachelor’s degrees in 30 disciplines plus a variety of master’s degrees, certification programs and continuing and professional development programs for adult learners on campus and online. Notre Dame College offers NCAA Division II intercollegiate athletic programs for men and women and is located in a picturesque residential neighborhood just 25 minutes from the heart of Cleveland. Hallmarks of the Notre Dame experience include stimulating academics, personalized attention of dedicated faculty and staff, and small class sizes.

Notre Dame College is located at 4545 College Road in South Euclid. For further information contact Brian Johnston, chief communications officer, at 216.373.5252 or