On a hot August day, thousands of students move into their new homes on campus. When you say good-bye to your family, you might feel a million emotions. Whether you’re coming from just an hour away or from all the way across the country, living on campus is a new experience. Just know you won’t be alone.
When you live on campus, you’ll have access to an upperclassman resident mentor (RM) to aid your transition. They are there to support you and keep you safe. These students have a wealth of experience in different areas of campus life – fraternity and sorority life, student and pre-professional organizations and more – and they can help you discover what you can do at Carolina.
For geography major Jawaun McClam, being an RM meant being able to create a home away from home for new students.
What is the role of an RM and why are they important?
An RM is an upperclassman who is there to help guide students through their first year. Students’ first year on campus can be a hard transition, so having a person on the hall can help them.
RMs host events, hold meetings, connect students to resources and help if they get locked out of their room (It happens!). The goal is to create a close-knit hall. By the end of the year, we hope our students know each other, eat dinner together and routinely hangout out in the hall and study spaces together.
Why did you decide to become an RM?
When I came to USC, I didn’t know anyone on my floor. Even though I only moved an hour away from home in Florence, South Carolina, I felt like I was far away from home. My RM brought us together on the first gathering and really got to know us.
Every time I saw him on campus, he’d have a good conversation with me. We all felt comfortable around him, and in turn, we all felt comfortable on our hall.
I knew I wanted to provide that similar feeling, too.
Now, I’m an RM in Preston, where I lived. I really want everyone to feel at home, as well. I invite them to dinner and other places on campus. My favorite thing to do is bring doughnuts for everybody. I also like sports. Because it’s such a big part of campus life, I make sure to invite them to go to games.
What has been a meaningful experience for you, as an RM?
Out of 20 or so residents, there was one student who was quiet and kept to herself. She reminded me of myself the first two weeks I was here. I tried to connect with her individually. I would talk with her and continued to get to know her throughout the semester. When she started to open up, she told me, “Jawaun, I just want to thank you for opening me up and making me feel at home at USC. You noticed me not feeling like I was at home.” That was the biggest benefit I’ve gotten from being an RM.
What do you hope your residents will remember about their experience in your hall?
I hope that they will remember that I’m nice and funny – I’m kind of a chill RM - and that I helped them during their freshman year. I hope they felt the sense of close-knit community I wanted to create.
What advice do you have for new students?
Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Keep your door open to meet other people on your hall and if other people have their door open, introduce yourself. That’s how you could meet your best friend, future lifelong friends or relationships. It wasn’t until I got involved on campus that I started meeting people.