Campus winners of the National Residence Hall Honorary Of the Month awards are selected at the beginning of each month, and recognize students, staff, and profesionals across Residence Life for their outstanding contributions towards enhancing residents’ experienes. In August, two NRHH campus winners, Doree Hicks and Kaylyn Harris were chosen as Regional Winners based on their extraordinary performanecs a Residence Life Professional and RA respectively.
Doree Hicks: NRHH Regional Residence Life Professional of the Month of August
Doree Hicks wears many hats at the University of Tennessee. She was simultaneously the Assistant Hall Director of South Carrick Hall, a graduate student, and, for one month, the Hall Director of South Carrick Hall. Doree took on this unexpected challenge with grace, professionalism, and excitement. She welcomed RAs back to campus and immediately calmed their fears about the sudden shift in head staff. Never once did Doree speak or act negatively about her new responsibility. This set the tone for all of South Carrick as the staff began a very busy couple of weeks.
Doree was a fantastic resource for her staff during training, but when residents started to arrive, Doree truly excelled. South Carrick is home to 530 female residents; almost 300 of those residents moved in early to participate in sorority recruitment. Doree organized and executed a smooth and efficient move-in. She creatively collaborated with North Carrick, a residence hall connected to South Carrick, and utilized both sets of elevators to create a flow of traffic that allowed residents and their families to unload and unpack their belongings, typically the longest part of move-in, much faster than previous years. She noticed the strengths of her new staff and utilized RAs as well as OAs, office assistants, in the most productive way possible, arranging the staff in different stations and staggering breaks. What is typically a hectic move-in day ran so smoothly; countless parents, residents, and housing staff recognized this and complimented South Carrick on it.
It is easy to see that Doree Hicks is worthy of recognition for all of the work she did during her first month as an Assistant Hall Director and Hall Director. Now, South Carrick has a full-time Hall Director, and Doree can return to her original role. I think I can speak for all of the South Carrick RAs when I say that we are so thankful for Doree, and we are looking forward to a successful year just as we had a successful beginning.
Kaylyn Harris: NRHH Regional Resident Assistant of the month of August
Kaylyn Harris is a first year RA in Reese Hall, and is currently a senior and serves as the President of UTK’s NAACP chapter, as well as balancing a few other student organizations as well. As a requirement of this position, RAs have to make door decorations and bulletin boards every month, but Kaylyn took it one step further by transforming her entire floor with (not required) hallway decorations into Kaylyn’s Kandyland. It was complete with large, decorative candy pieces and “Candy Land”-like board game pieces going from one end of the hallway to the other. She made individually cut-out lollipop door decorations for each of her residents which each had handwritten labels attached to the lollipops with twine. Her first bulletin board also tied into the candy theme, which was adorned with a giant gumball machine and opportunities for residents to take away slips of paper with quotes and words of encouragement.
“Pride in You” was her second program and this focused on diversity and acceptance. Residents were able to write down and complete the following phrases: “My room is HATE FREE because ________”, “I’m proud to be ______”, and “I stand against ________”. Their individual responses are now posted on their doors, and all responses have been compiled together on one wall to truly show what floor 4W represents. To make it more impressive, 35 of her 36 residents participated!
During the last staff meeting of August, Kaylyn’s fellow staff members voted for her to give her the Golden Throne, a travelling trophy that the RAs give each other weekly for someone who went out of their way to do something great for the building. “She gets so much done and I don’t know how!”, said one staff member. They recognize the great work she is doing and I want to recognize her as well with this nomination that only begins to scratch the surface on. Thank you.