Month: April 2019


Resident Assistant of the Month

School: University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee Region: GLACURH
Nominee: Vanessa Kersten Nominator: Blake Boutell and Haley Zangl

On-Campus Population: 4200 Chapter Size: 42

Please explain the outstanding contributions of the nominee during the month of nomination

“Success isn't always about greatness. It's about consistency. Consistent hard work leads to success. Greatness will come.” This quote from Dwane Johnson describes the consistent dedication that Resident Assistant Vanessa Kersten has had all year, but also specifically in the month of April. Vanessa has been very dedicated this month to her residents and her Living Learning Community the American Sign Language LLC. This LLC comprises of both Deaf and hearing residents who are in ASL studies. Vanessa and the help of the students in the LLC host a yearly event called See What I’m Signing. Since this is the second time Vanessa has planned this event, she had big dreams to make this event better than ever before. She took the lead on planning games, organizing volunteers, deciding prizes, planning food for volunteers, training volunteers, recruiting t-shirt designs, and all advertising- all of which takes months to plan for. That is a significant amount of work on top of the rest of her RA responsibilities, but Vanessa takes pride in this event and the ability to educate others. Without Vanessa, this event wouldn’t have been as successful and impactful as it was.

Outside of this event, Vanessa has also shown her leadership and advocacy skills. Vanessa has spent a significant amount of time talking with her supervisor about barriers Deaf/Hard of Hearing residents face in housing and brainstorming solutions in order to make these students feel comfortable and valued in housing. An example of this is the TV in her floor lounge. The old TV was 32”, which made it almost impossible for residents to read the captions. To fix this, Vanessa submitted a proposal to SHAC to fund a 55” TV for the lounge, which was approved. Her residents couldn’t have been more excited for the TV to come in order to create a more Deaf friendly space in the lounge. Once the approval went through, it took over a month for the TV to be ordered and installed. Her residents’ excitement turned to frustration as time went on and the TV installation was delayed over and over again. It would be easy for her residents’ demand for the TV to overwhelm her since it was out of her control, however, she directed their frustration to help them ask respectfully for updates on the installation and helped continue the excitement despite delays. As Vanessa got updates on the installation, she continually informed her residents, and once the TV was finally installed, the entire morale of the community changed. Residents already hung out in the lounge prior to the new TV being installed, but the environment is much more positive and energetic now that everyone feels included. Additionally, Vanessa has advocated for training all housing staff on how to interact with residents who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing, has brainstormed ideas to expand our strobe system for a variety of alarms to make sure residents who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing are notified in the same way Hearing residents are, and pushing for number screens to be used in dining facilities for people to know when their food is ready.

Overall, Vanessa continuously goes above and beyond for the needs of her residents, but she does so in a way that inspires her peers to advocate for all students, not just their own. Her patience, determination, and drive to make positive changes are inspiring to all who interact with her. We’re excited to see how Vanessa continues to make an impact when she returns to this community again next year!

Word Count: 590

Date of entry into database: 2019-04-30 21:54:26

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