As an RA at Biola University, Catalina Hall Resident Director Tessa Crellin never thought to follow a career path in higher education’s residence life. Upon graduation, it wasn’t until a friend suggestion that Crellin even began to consider it.
“I liked having an aspect where I encouraged other people to go out into the world and do what their gifting and calling was,” said Crellin, recalling her experience as an RA.
After attaining her Master of Science in College Counseling and Student Development at Azusa Pacific University, Crellin later came to work at Residence Life at Vanguard University in an administrative position. As of this academic year, she began her position at Catalina Hall, which allows her to work with students on a one-on-one basis.
Crellin brings her passion to encourage others to the primarily sophomore and transfer dorm. With this in mind, she hopes to further establish a community within Catalina, a four-floor hall that is categorized into north and south sides.
Living in Catalina Hall with her husband, Ben Crellin, she has begun to embrace the community of the university. Accompanied in their little home with their one-eyed dog, Gerdy, her family has become part of the hall of the residents.
“I work here, but you [Catalina Hall residents] are my neighbors,” Crellin explained.
In her time in the hall, Crellin realized that the resident assistants were often exhausted in their attempts to interact with residents, as the building was attempting to run the same way as the Laguna, the freshman hall.
Because so many students work 30 to 40 hours a week on top of attending school full-time, the RAs of the building need to create an inviting community in which everyone can feel included, according to Crellin.
In combination with her vision for students and her observations over the year, Crellin seeks to deepen the roots of the Catalina Hall floor community, intertwining both north and south sides alike, through the implementation of Floor Partners.
This program is intended to emphasize a larger sense of morale and partnership for the hall’s resident assistants in the upcoming academic year and make it easier to create interactive events for students, according to Crellin.
Floor Partners will be the partnership between the north and south side of each floor within the building. According to an e-mail sent out to perspective RAs for the following academic year, the program will consist of teamwork between two RAs within the following capacities: united vision and theme, combined events, collective intentionality, and peer support.
Together, RAs on each floor will work together to create a welcoming environment containing a common vision. Within their floor, they are expected to create events and manage a shared budget. Through these events, the team will foster growth through allowing students to get to know others on the floor.
Students will go from knowing maybe 20 or 30 other students to about 60, according to Crellin.
Crellin’s hope in this program is to give Catalina Hall residents a community where the encouragement she, as well as her RAs, can give to further enrich the lives of students.
Through Floor Partners, Crellin’s vision is specific to how students will be served by the institution. She wants to see students continually achieving their purpose and being encouraged though a hospitable space.