From the Midwest to Southern Miss

Lindsay Watson, M. Ed.  Student Activities Manager at The University of Southern Mississippi

Lindsay Watson, M. Ed.
Student Activities Manager at The University of Southern Mississippi

I attended Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio for my undergraduate career many moons ago.  At the time, I was not sure I would like the idea of living with a roommate…so I opted for a single room in a rather large residence hall.  My room was connected to a bathroom, which was also connected to another single room.  So, no roommate…but I still had to share the bathroom.  No biggy, right?

The time came to move into my new home away from home.  I said goodbye to my family and joined my First Weekend Crew (known as GEWW at USM) and started meeting other students that was in the same degree program as I was.  I was excited to develop new friends and prepare for my first days of class.

Weeks went by and some of my new friends went a different direction than where I wanted to go.  I struggled with meeting new people and really had to force myself to come out of my residence hall room.  To top it all off, my suitemate was gone frequently and often times were off campus for days at a time.  My boyfriend at the time wanted to take me off campus and go to various fairs, festivals, the movie theater, or out with his friends.  I had a great time, but that was not helping me meet people on campus.  Eventually, I developed the mentality that my ‘real’ home was just an hour away, and started traveling home on the weekends to be with my parents and friends in that area.

The school year trucked on and I still struggled with wanting to physically stay on campus.  It was at this time that I called home, crying, telling my parents I was ready to move home.  I would still attend class, but living on campus was not for me.  My parents encouraged me to stay and asked me to get involved in one student group on campus and see if that changed the way I felt about living on campus.  I told them I would try, though I never really planned to get involved at this point.  I was ready to check out.

After the phone conversation with my parents, I went downstairs to the basement of my residence hall to wash my clothes.  After all…I was getting ready to pack everything up and move home!   When I least expected it, a girl named Sally (name changed for the story) started to make small talk with me.  I noticed she was working on some event flyers.  I asked her what group she belonged to in which she replied, “The Woods Community Council.  We need a Hickory Hall representative if you are interested!”  Funny how timing works.  She convinced me to go to the next meeting with her.  I felt very welcomed.  The advisors of the group put me helping with events right off the bat.  I was now the voice of the residence in Hickory Hall.

I ended up staying on campus the rest of the year.  I enjoyed being part of the Woods Community Council and creating new friendships.  In fact, 3 of the girls I met on the council were going to be my roommates in an on campus apartment the following year…yup…I said WERE.  Towards the end of the school year, I applied to be a Resident Assistant.  I loved working in the residence life field so much that I applied and was hired as a RA for the next school year.  I was bummed to tell my new roomies that I had to bail, but SUPER excited that I found my niche!

I continued meeting SO many new people over the course of the next few years.  After two years as a RA, I was promoted to Senior Resident Assistant…supervising my very own staff while attending college as an undergraduate!  Great practical and resume experience!  My supervisor saw so much potential in me that they sent me to a Placement Exchange to interview with many universities across the United States in search of a Graduate Assistantship position in Residence Life.  After several offers, I accepted the Hall Director Position at USM where I attended graduate school for Student Affairs.  By just that one little initiation…that one step out of my box…it set me up for my career.

I love working with students and doing the very best I can to make sure that no student goes through the same ‘I want to move home’ experience that I did.   Getting involved can help you find who you really are and help you discover things you never knew about yourself and your university.   The connections and networking opportunities that are presented to you are endless.  My experiences made me who I am today…and though it was a rough start to college, I would not trade it for anything!

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