By Kelly Ethridge/Staff writer
Rontai Walker loved college so much he didn’t want to leave.He said his job extends his college experience. Walker received a degree in business information systems at State University of West Georgia, where he served as the resident assistant for two years. This is his second year as residence hall coordinator. He began in July of last year as RHC of Clay Hall before assuming his current position as RHC of Keene Hall.
Walker’s choice of major was due to his plan to go into business for himself. “It is probably a lot more important than what I had originally planned to do, which was to go into business and make a lot of money. It feels good,” he said.
He said what feels good is his knowledge of the impact he has on students. He was a first-generation college student, so his family, while supportive, couldn’t understand the trials through which he was going.
Walker said he loves being the person students can turn to when they need advice or a sympathetic ear. He added that one challenge of his job was trying to be impartial. “You try and put up a wall, and you just try to take it at face value,” he said. “But a lot of times, you really start to feel for other people’s situations, and it’s kind of hard to divorce yourself from it and say, ‘OK, I need to maintain composure.'”
“I can’t sit here and cry about this person’s situation cause they’re sitting here crying to me about stuff. I need to be strong.”
He said it’s hard to keep sane, but he “loves it; it’s good punishment.” The demand for Walker’s assistance is almost constant. As coordinator of the second largest residence hall at Eastern, he stays busy.
Clay Hall, where he worked last year, is all upperclassmen, so working with freshmen is a new experience for him. “It’s a totally different population,” he said. “They come with different issues, but they’re eager, and they’re excited to get involved on campus or get involved in Keene, and I think that energy’s kind of refreshing. I enjoy it.”
One piece of advice Walker has for college students is to be involved on campus. “College isn’t just about academics,” he said. When he started college, he thought he had to study all the time to make good grades, but after his first semester, he realized that he could take on other things without his grades suffering. So he did.
He became a resident assistant., joined a fraternity and served as summer-orientation leader, among other activities. He said his involvement “made the college experience that much more enjoyable.”
“College is what you make it,” he added.
What he likes about Eastern are the people he works with. “I like my co-workers, my fellow hall coordinators,” he said. “It’s really like a family environment. That’s really comforting because all of my family’s back home in Georgia.”
Walker is starting his own family in Richmond. He was married about three weeks ago. His wife is a student at Eastern, which brings new meaning to his feeling of family here.
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