Barrett students hold leadership positions in Residence Hall Association; RHA executive director works to give students a voice

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June 11, 2018

The Residence Hall Association has a healthy representation of Barrett Honors College students in its leadership ranks this year.

Keziah Ampadu-Siaw

Keziah "Kay" Ampadu-Siaw, a senior philosophy major in Barrett Honors College, is the new RHA executive director.

Keziah “Kay” Ampadu-Siaw, a senior in Barrett majoring in philosophy with a minor in women and gender studies, recently was elected executive director of RHA.

She is one of four Barrett students who last spring were elected to the RHA Executive Board. As board members they work on behalf of students living and learning in residence halls.

Other Barrett students elected to the RHA board are:

Chris Reid, a business entrepreneurship major, Director of Leadership Development

Morgan Wendlandt, a business entrepreneurship major, elected to the position of NACURH Communications Coordinator

Ella Featherstone, an elementary education major, National Residence Hall Honorary Chancellor. NRHH represents the top 1 percent of students on a college campus.

Allyson "Ally" Atkinson, a biological sciences major and past RHA executive director, served as NACURH Conference Chair. She helped coordinate the NACURH (National Association of College and University Residence Halls) national leadership conference held at ASU May 25-28.  

We caught up with Amapadu-Siaw to see how she got involved with RHA and how she approaches her work on behalf of students.

How did you get involved in RHA?

I got involved through the encouragement of one of Barrett's dining hall employees, Vicke Davis. It was almost the end of my freshman year and most of my time had been spent going to classes and visiting Vicke at the dining hall. I had heard of the Residence Hall Association (RHA) through the Barrett Residential Council and had attended a few of their meetings and events because one of my friends was one of the vice presidents. My parents did not want me working in college, but when Vicke and some of my friends encouraged me to apply for the vice president position in Vista, I reached out to the president of the Community Council. We had a few meetings via Skype over the summer, and I got to learn what the position really entailed. After that, I did what I do best. I presented the idea to my parents and told them why this position would benefit me not only with developing my leadership skills but with my professional endeavors as well. Soon, they agreed and even then, I was not guaranteed the position. I had to run and campaign within the Vista & Villas community. I did this with the support and assistance of my friends and later elected as one of the several vice presidents within the community. Through this position, I fell deeply in love with RHA and this can be seen in my continual involvement within the organization.

What is your position on the RHA Executive Board? What are the responsibilities of your board position?

I am the Executive Director of RHA for the 2018-19 academic year. My duties include but are not limited to developing organizational direction; presiding over all general council, staff, and executive board meetings; casting the deciding vote in the case of a tie; serving as a liaison to university administration; serving as a liaison to community council advisors; representing the Residence Hall Association on campus; overseeing the activities of the Executive Board; supervising the staff of the Residence Hall Association; hiring two special event assistants; overseeing the summer operations of the organization; and executing and enforcing organizational policy and practices.

Why is it important for students to have RHA representation? 

I strongly believe it is important for students to have RHA representation as we stand by the saying, "an organization for the students by the students." As RHA student leaders, we are equipped with the tools necessary to create platforms for resident voices to be heard. This platform is created not just in a formal meeting setting, but while interacting with students while walking through the hallways and eating in the dining halls. Technically, every student who lives on campus is part of the Residence Hall Association, however, not everyone knows this and our goal is to ensure that residents are aware of the resources they have available to them.

What would you like students to know about RHA and what it does?

RHA is an organization that not only provides job opportunities but also a clear purpose per our constitution, which is to "enhance the quality of residence hall life and provide a cohesive voice for the residents by addressing the concerns of the on-campus population to university administrators and other campus organizations; providing cultural/diversity, community service, educational, and social programming; establishing and working with individual community councils.”

Moreover, our organization is "comprised of students of diverse races; ethnicities; sexual orientations; gender expressions or identities; socioeconomic statuses; ages; physical, intellectual and learning abilities; religious beliefs; political beliefs; and, institutional identities. We strive to appreciate additional identities not specified previously, and all identities born of the intersectionality of both aforementioned and unspecified identities and affiliations."

 Do you have specific goals you would like to accomplish as an RHA board member? What are they? 

My goals for this upcoming year are to (1) work to ensure that all staff members are adequately supported in their journey to achieve their goals and positional duties, (2)to strive to ensure we are providing opportunities for residents and staff to grow individually, professionally and as outstanding leaders and finally, (3) to ensure that we are instigating and championing sustainable practices, inclusiveness, and diversity through our four pillars (leadership development, programming, advocacy, and regional involvement). I also want RHA to consistently be infused with student leaders who are committed to driving progressive change, and working toward making every environment an inclusive one wherein residents of diverse background are valued and heard.

Is there anything you would like to add? 

In addition to providing professional opportunities, RHA has provided me a safe space, family, and lifelong friends (particularly my best friend Allyson Atkinson) through my college years. I was always involved in high school, but in college, I could not seem to find where I belonged, until I was introduced to RHA. Our organization is made up of amazing, strong and friendly student leaders and the professional staff who advise us, support us, and help us grow. They are beyond incredible and extraordinary. Whether you are an introverted or extroverted leader, RHA provides numerous opportunities for you to grow. My favorite part is the structure of our meetings. Our next meeting is August 22, location to be determined. All students who live in a residence hall are welcome to attend.

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