Feature: Senior Resident Advisor Keon Nesmith

“A True Leader Challenges the Status Quo” in Advising Role

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Photo by Courtesy of Keon Nesmith

Bridgewater senior and Senior Resident Advisor Keon Nesmith. As an SRA, Nesmith credits his position with honing his leadership skills and helping him build valuable relationships on campus.

Sidney Beck, Staff Writer

Bridgewater, Va. – Keon Nesmith is a senior at Bridgewater College. Nesmith has been a Resident Advisor for two years and currently holds a Senior Resident Advisor position on campus. For Nesmith, be believes that leadership at Bridgewater is easy for anyone to get involved in. 

Nesmith recalls how being an SRA at Bridgewater College has greatly impacted his leadership skills because he gets to serve as a role model not only to residents, but other Resident Advisors as well. “I want to make sure other Resident Advisors do not make the same mistakes that I did and that they are more successful than I was in that position,” said Nesmith. 

“This year, it was very tough for me to realize that yes, other Resident Advisors are still my friends, but in a professional setting they are not. I do not like to call myself a superior, we are just on different levels. There are more limitations now than there were when our jobs were on the same level, it is just a matter of our jobs not having the same job title,” said Nesmith. 

Elaborating on the idea of Senior Resident Advisors and Resident Advisors being on different levels, Nesmith talked about the responsibilities that separate the two positions. 

The first responsibility Nesmith identified was how the SRAs assist in planning duty hours for the Resident Advisors once a week in staff meetings. 

Another responsibility Nesmith mentioned was when an RA needs backup, SRAs are next in the chain of command. 

Nesmith commented one major responsibility that separates an SRA from an RA is the level of advice SRAs give not only to residents, but Resident Advisors. 

“Being a member of residential life for students, you have so many different levels of support, but it is different for an SRA because you are more of like a constant support system. We do not have office hours like other residential life staff, we are just always here.”

Nesmith discussed how SRAs can be a campus-wide resource to RAs and students. “We are trained to know resources for different needs on campus off of the top of our heads, so we can quickly lead students and advisors in the right direction.” 

Nesmith then talked about what he felt was his biggest accomplishment being a leader on Bridgewater’s campus. 

“My biggest accomplishment is helping others realize that they have the power to change things. For example, within the Resident Advisor position, there are often policies or situations that you may not necessarily agree with. I encourage the Resident Advisors to challenge this, I believe that a true leader challenges the status quo. One of my biggest accomplishments is definitely passing this idea down and helping Resident Advisors and students realize that they have more power than they think.” 

Nesmith shared some advice that he would give to any Resident Advisors planning to apply for a Senior Resident Advisor position at Bridgewater College. His advice is to “just be yourself, I think that is the most important part of applying for the position. I tell Resident Advisors that ask me for help when they are applying that they have been interviewing for this position since their very first day as a Resident Advisor.”  

Nesmith said the best advice for students applying for leadership positions is to just go for it. 

“In my opinion, leaders have four main qualities: They inspire people, innovate new ideas, challenge the status quo, and are able to think in the long term. I cannot emphasize this enough, just be who you are, do not change yourself just because you are in a certain role. Just be yourself and it will all work out,” Nesmith said.  

“I have met some very interesting people that I know I would not have met if I had not had any of these positions, and I am very grateful for that,” said Nesmith.