New housing staff expect to bring changes

Justin Marquart

In an effort to divide the responsibilities among the resident assistants and staff, Kristi Schulte, housing director, hired five new staff members.

“Last year we took some time to take a look at our staffing structure and to make sure that we had the needs meet for the students and staff in the building,” Schulte said. “We made some changes based on where additional resources were needed as well as where we may have been a little overstaffed. Nearly everyone in the department has a new role or function in some way or another.”

Schulte has changed how the office works with RAs, focusing more on the idea of building relationships between RAs and their residents.

“We have really shifted our community development approach in our programming model with our RAs. Everything relies on this idea that relationship-building is fundamental for everything we do.” Schulte said. “There is no reason why every single student on campus cannot feel or be connected somewhere, and the RAs play a pivotal role in that.”

Schulte said the RAs are trained to look at their community and see who they need to build a relationship with.

“Our goal is to make sure that every student on campus realizes that they do matter to the Midwestern community and help them feel like they have a place to call home,” Schulte said.

Schulte said she believes that residents should get involved using housing activities and programs as a place to get connected with others.

“Housing can be a very transformational piece of that student experience, but it doesn’t happen if students treat these buildings as if they are only used for beds and keys,” Schulte said, “You have to help students engage and you have to help students connect.”

Meet the new staff

Kishma Alexander

Kishma Alexander, hall director for Pierce Hall

Being a female hall director for an all-male dorm, Alexander said she feels more comfortable working with boys than girls. She also believes her teaching experience can help her communicate and get people to communicate with her by forming a relationship.

“The school I taught in was kind of like an alternative school for kids with chronicle behavioral problems, so for a lot of my kids when I first met them, they would be very abrasive,” Alexander said. “Being a teacher, they teach you how to teach, but no one really teaches you discipline. So what I noticed is that the only way to reach those kids and to get them to learn is by forming a relationship with them.”

Alexander wants to be able to communicate and be more present with her residents so they can get to know her and help get them more involved.

“Obviously I’m not going to have the time to be an RA, but I want to go into their rooms and one-on-one let them know me,” Alexander said. “Basically I want to continue the tradition of them [residents] always being involved in all programs and be more present so they know who I am.”

Favorite color | Purple

Favorite movie | “Love and Basketball”

Favorite music genre | Reggae

Wants to Visit | Tahiti

Interesting fact | Likes to garden

Graduated from | SUNY Buffalo

Degree | Environmental Studies

Thornton Collier

Thornton Collier, hall director for McCullough Trigg

Collier wants to bring Trigg out of its shell by getting its residents more involved and more engaged in programs and activities hosted by the RAs.

“I heard it’s a quieter and more introverted dorm. I’m an extrovert, as a lot of people will tell you, so for me I would love to get them out of their rooms,” Collier said. “I would love to make it an environment where people know they’re having fun, where it’s a family and they will be able to go out and feel comfortable wherever they go in the building and feel like they have somebody there.”

Collier said his RA staff is helping him with his transition to a new university and new position.

“Luckily I have an amazing RA staff, so for me they are helping out a lot for this whole transition and they have great ideas and things that we can do already for move-in and night,” Collier said.

Favorite color | Blue

Favorite movie | “The Pursuit of Happiness”

Favorite music genre | Hip Hop and R&B

Wants to Visit | Brazil

Interesting fact | Goof ball

Graduated from | Norfolk State University

Degree | Mass communication

Tera Humphrey

Tera Humphrey, associate director

With Humphrey coming into a new position at MSU, she said she feels it’s a good thing because she can step back and look at things in a different light. She said she will be looking at things during the first year and asking questions.

“Whenever you come into a new position, it’s always exciting to look at things with a new eye, so I think a lot of what I’m going to be doing this next year is asking why? Why do we do what we do? What’s the reason behind it? I’m a why person anyway, so understanding context is always helpful,” Humphrey said.

Humphrey said she wants to work with the hall directors the first semester to try and get them to understand what they are being asked and wants to help them keep the balance between school, the job and themselves.

“I want to work with professional development plans and looking at what is the next step, because I recognize not everyone wants to go into higher education, so I’d be working with them to see if there are any other skills,” Humphrey said. “It’s going to be working back-and-forth. I’ve got some different kinds of forms and things that we can work on together with that provide structure of figuring out what is it that they want to do and what skills do they need to gain to do so.”

Favorite color | Gold, but can not turn down a good hot pink color

Favorite movie | “Jurassic Park”

Favorite music genre | Pop and rock

Wants to Visit | Anywhere in Europe

Interesting fact | Swam above a shark

Graduated from | Missouri University of Science and Technology for undergraduate and North Carolina State University for graduate degree

Degree | Biology with teacher certificate for undergraduate and a masters degree in education

Derek Soper

Derek Soper, hall director for Legacy Hall

Soper wants the upcoming year to be about the continuing growth of Legacy Hall’s identity, especially since it is still in its infancy.

“Last year, since it was the first year [Legacy Hall] opened, we didn’t really know the identity of the building yet and so this year we are going to really continue on finding what the identity of this building is,” Soper said.

Even though Soper might be an alum from Tarleton, he says that he wears MSU on the outside but still “bleeds purple” on the inside.

“Trust me, the students and staff have let me know that I’m from Tarleton. They let me know everyday,” Soper said. “When I got to MSU and I met some of the students that go here, the Tarleton rivalry went out of my mind because I’m here for the students.”

Previously being a hall director at Blinn College, Soper had the experience of dealing with students and residents, especially those that are first generation students, because a lot of students from Blinn are first generation students. With MSU having a lot of first generation students as well — about 85 percent — he said that experience at Blinn will help here.

“First generation college students sometimes need more guidance, but it’s not that they’re bad people or they mean to need more attention, but it’s because nobody else in their family really knows about college so they need more of that one-on-one interaction and guidance to where they need to go,” Soper said.

Favorite color | Purple

Favorite movie | “Young Guns”

Favorite music genre | Rock, Country and Pop

Wants to Visit | Australia

Interesting fact | Scuba certified instructor, first career choice was to train dolphins

Graduated from | Tarleton

Degree | Animal Science

Britny Spencer

Britny Spencer, graduate assistant for academic initiatives and success

Spencer is here to help with academic initiatives and bringing resources to not only RA’s but students as well.

“One of the reasons why they brought me in was because they want to bring more academic resources into housing and they wanted to kind of take some of the responsibilities from the RA’s having to create and seek out academic resources.” Spencer said, “So that’s my job to think about those things and try and make it innovative and accessible to students.”

Spencer is already planning some things to bring resources to students and said he is thinking about planning a thing for people who might not have done as well as they would like.

“At some point, and this will probably not be until next semester, but we want to do something for people who didn’t do so well during the semester or are on academic probation,” Spencer said. “We would be using housing and maybe having mental recessions, talking to the students and seeing what their problems were or what they need to work on. Maybe it was family stuff, or  they just didn’t go to class, or were they really struggling — we’d just be trying to help them through that.”

Favorite color | Purple

Favorite movie | “Nightmare Before Christmas”

Favorite music genre | Alternative

Wants to Visit | Paris

Interesting fact | Paints and collects pop action figures

Graduated from | Texas A&M Kingsville

Degree | BA in Psychology with a minor in art