Kady Shea, the new RLC for the CaNaDa cluster (Cowles, Norris, and Dibble), likes photography, art, painting, documentaries and road trips. She comes to Grinnell directly from a master’s degree in Higher Education at Loyola University in Chicago, where she was also an assistant in residence life. Before that, she worked at St. Mary’s College in South Bend, Ind., and for her undergraduate work attended Simmons College, a Boston women’s liberal arts college, where she was highly involved in student leadership.
Shea was drawn to Grinnell because she “was looking to get some experience outside of day-to-day res-life things,” and thought that it seemed like “an interesting place to work.”
Some of the ways Shea is able to work outside the day-to-day include working with New Student Orientation and student activities. When asked how she was adjusting to Grinnell life, Shea explained that she considers herself to be “a pretty relaxed person in general, so this seems like a good fit for me right now.”
She said she wants the students in her cluster to know that “they can really come to me for anything—if they are homesick or there [are] more serious issues going on in their life, I am a person they can talk to and I am a resource for them.”
Gabe Barela, the new RLC for LooseHead (Loose, Haines and Read), was attracted to the unique environment of Grinnell.
“To be completely honest, I wasn’t looking for a living-in Residence Life experience,” he said.
After Grinnell sought him out in one of the two official conferences for Student Affairs professionals, he became intrigued by the idea that the RLC has a different role than in most universities.
“The way they described it is that they’re not looking for cookie-cutter people to fill this position,” he said.
Barela added that he “was blown away by how intelligent and engaged and passionate students are about what they do here.” He described his former job as a “catch all,” where he would direct people to help with anything from financial aid to academic advising. He has been doing student-related work for around 10 years.
Barela is no stranger to small towns. He’s from a small town in Colorado called Manassa, which has a population of about 1,000 people. He said that for him, Grinnell feels like a big city. He enjoys camping, snow-tubing, water-tubing and other outdoor sports. He also enjoys music and almost anything sports-related. His favorite color is purple, because it was his fraternity’s color.
Latoya Johnson is the new RLC for Smounker (Smith and Younker), and comes to Grinnell from two years working at Haverford College in Pennsylvania. She was drawn to Grinnell by “the aspect of self-gov and being able to help students facilitate their own way and not having to enforce exorbitant amounts of policies and rules and procedures.”
Having lived in Philadelphia before coming to Grinnell, adapting to small town life is a bit of an adjustment. Johnson notes that “it is definitely a transition. I am really loving the laid-back attitude that a small town can have … there are also things … that I kind of miss.”
“I want students to know that they can come and just hang out if they want,” she said. Johnson is happy to discuss issues, large and small, with her students. Her hobbies include playing and watching basketball, doing jigsaw puzzles and watching documentaries.