Making Carolina feel like home

Carolina senior Emma Fagerberg and her fellow resident advisors are paving the way for new Tar Heels to make Carolina their home.

Emma Fagerberg stands with her arms crossed on the balcony of Hinton James.
Emma Fagerberg stands on the balcony of Hinton James. (Johnny Andrews/UNC-Chapel Hill)

As a new class of first-year students gets ready to officially become Tar Heels, resident advisors across campus are preparing housing communities for the new students and planning events to make them feel at home.

Resident advisors are full-time Carolina undergraduate or graduate students who live in the communities and serve as counselors, administrators and friends to other residents. They arrived on campus two weeks before other students to ensure that the communities are ready for incoming students and to train for their positions.

Emma Fagerberg, a senior psychology and biology major who is starting her third year as a resident advisor, explains how resident advisors prepare for the new semester and how her experiences as a resident advisor shaped her time at Carolina.

What Carolina communities have you worked in as a resident advisor and what kind of students live there?

I’ve lived and worked in Hinton James since I was a first year. We have all first years here, so I get to help make Carolina feel like home to incoming students. It’s important to make sure they feel like they have a familiar face who knows their name while they get acclimated.

What do resident advisors do to prepare for students moving in?

We organize events for the first couple of months of the semester, like ice cream socials, trivia matches or team sports. We have a learning outcome for the events as well, such as wellness or intercultural connection. Hinton James will also host one of the First Year Fridays, which are social events geared toward helping first years meet their classmates.

We decorate the building with posters and flyers with information and events, and we’ll be assisting with the move-in process. We make sure everyone gets checked in, receives their keys and knows where to go. We answer questions from incoming students and parents and make sure move-in day goes as smoothly as possible.

We also take this time to bond as a staff and get to know one another.

You’re also a resident advisor mentor. What do you tell new resident advisors before their first semester?

To expect the unexpected. Carolina students come from so many different backgrounds and have a huge range of life experiences and perspectives. And also, their leadership style will develop as the semester goes on and they’ll learn how to be a good RA and motivate their residents.

This is your third year as a resident advisor. What makes this experience special?

My residents make it worthwhile every year. Every time I’m able to help with a personal issue, give advice or just answer a simple question about campus, they express so much gratitude. Being a resident advisor can feel like a thankless job sometimes because so much of what we do is behind the scenes, but our residents always make the job fun.

Visit TheWell.UNC.edu to learn how Carolina Housing staff members are meticulously preparing for students to return