Resident Assistants (RAs) represented Saint Leo University this year at the Florida Resident Assistant Seminar (FRAS), which was held from Jan. 19 to Jan. 21. RAs from public schools, like the University of Florida, to private schools, like Saint Leo University, all attend in an effort to win first, second, and third place overall.
Preparation for FRAS isn’t easy either, 10 delegates from Residence Life were chosen through an internal application process. Once the team was selected, multiple committees were created to work on different projects. The projects included making a display board, producing a video, designing team T-shirts, crafting make-and-takes, collecting Leo gear for the swap shop, fundraising, and a philanthropy team. All of these follow a theme that changes annually; this year’s theme was Sea Life. All of the projects are overseen by FRAS advisors, Assistant Director of Residence Life Kristen Nash, and Graduate Assistant of Programming Sabrina Schroeder.
“Being that this was my fourth year at FRAS each year has given me the opportunity to make professional connections all over the state of FL and not only connections to new professional opportunities but to also sharpen my skills as a leader,” said Schroeder. “FRAS is an experience like no other. You are literally taken out of your comfort zone and pushed to truly show pride for your University. It has given me such great pleasure being able to represent Saint Leo and share our differences but unify them by taking what I learn about others and their school’s culture to help further diversify the minds of Saint Leo students.”
Day One of FRAS begins with a drive down to the host school, this year FRAS was hosted by two schools that are adjacent, Ringling College of Art and Design and New College of Florida, located in Sarasota, FL. The opening ceremony was hosted at Mote Aquarium, and all the Roll Call videos produced by each school were played. Afterwards, a swap shop is hosted with the other colleges where the institutions bring out their best gear and trade with other schools. At the seminar, Saint Leo showcased gear ranging from nice polos and jackets to Fritz the lion stress balls. Saint Leo received letters from other schools saying that they loved Saint Leo gear, with many schools stating that Saint Leo had the best. One of the Saint Leo RAs, Michael Williams, described how the first day went for him.
“I didn’t think I’d like going to FRAS as much as I did. From the second I got off the van at the kickoff event [on]the first night I knew I was in for something much bigger and better than I expected. I consider myself a naturally upbeat person, so feeding off the energy of the other schools made me feel right at home,” said Williams.
Day Two began at 8 a.m. with five presentations hosted by other RAs. RAs will bring the knowledge and skills learned in these presentations back to the university.
A few select presentations stood out. The first being some great ice-breakers that will get residents up, active, and participating. Another program was presented by a New College of Florida representative; this program identified methods of being more inclusive with members of the LGBTQ+ community.
The conference concluded with an informal banquet, and an opportunity for RAs of different universities to intermingle. The night was just getting started though. The items from the swap shop were all organized and divided up amongst delegates and for the rest of the night, games were played with RAs of other universities. Saint Leo RAs enjoyed a game of Mafia with RAs from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. Williams mentioned his experience at the conference; he presented, which he described as intimidating, and he also got to meet a lot of RAs from different schools.
“Overall, I loved the FRAS conference, and I really wish it could’ve lasted much longer than it actually did. I’m already making plans to visit some of my new friends at their respective universities to get further insight on how they work and just to have some of the same fun we had while we were at FRAS,” said Williams.
Jennifer Connell, who is a first-year housing RA in Marmion and Snyder Residence Halls, described her experience at the seminar as well; this was her second year attending FRAS.
“FRAS has been amazing, between gaining new friendships and continuing with the old ones. Every year it reminds me just how lucky I am to be an RA at Saint Leo University,” said Connell.
RAs gained a ton of knowledge, friendships, and skill sets to bring back to their colleges and universities. Saint Leo University is excited about FRAS 2019, although the host college is still unknown.