Chaos and dedication: life as a resident advisor

By Laura Harkins

Justin Walker works at his job 24 hours a day.

“You’re on call all day and all night,” Walker said. “The most difficult thing is being ready for the unexpected.”

Walker, junior in LAS, serves as a resident advisor of Townsend’s south wing second floor in Illinois Street Residence Hall.

Passions for community involvement and service describe more than Walker’s attitude toward his job. Walker stressed connection, commitment and communication when speaking about his resident advisor position.

He considers the skills he has learned and the experiences he has encountered as a resident advisor invaluable to his future. A desire to build community and monetary benefits were reasons Walker wanted to be a resident advisor.

“He has a passion for helping people,” said George West, junior in LAS, a friend of Walker’s. “He’s committed to bettering those around him.”

West added that he thinks Walker will be successful at what he chooses to do because he is driven.

Walker, a political science major, is an active member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and is considering law school or pursuing a master’s in public policy after he graduates from the University.

Important influences in his life include his grandfather, who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, and the African-American Studies 201 class he took which inspired him to go into social justice.

“Professor Samantha Frost is the best professor I’ve had here (at the University),” Walker said. “I’m in two of her classes right now – they’re hard classes but they’re great.”

In addition to political science, Walker enjoys dance. This semester marks his second semester as president and founder of a new dance group on campus: Chaos Theory Dance Team.

“Chaos means change,” Walker said about why he selected the name.

Prior semesters Walker had participated in another dance team on campus but he wanted to do something different and combine his interests so he created Chaos Theory. The dance team functions as both an outlet for dance and expression and also performs community service.

“Before a show we might be there until 2 a.m. practicing,” Walker said.

Amid his busy schedule, Walker also finds time to play his tenor saxophone.

“This is my baby,” he said. “I’ve been playing for seven years.

But even with all of his other interests, Walker stays dedicated to his job as a resident advisor.

“You have to always be aware of what’s going on,” Walker said. Normal duties include making “common rounds” at 7 p.m. with a fellow resident advisor, returning and checking halls again at 11 p.m.

“If something happens they call me. If nothing happens I go to sleep,” he said.

Walker emphasized the relationships he has built and the unexpected aspects of his job.

Recounting experiences, Walker spoke of older resident advisors who had helped prepare and welcome him, in addition to meeting his own residents.

“The first night back from break we were all playing video games in somebody’s room,” he said.

Walker said that he likes the “behind the scenes” aspects that he gets to see as a resident advisor.

“The facilities and services people are the coolest ever,” he said.

He said that his job is fun and recommends it to every person on campus.

Jasmine Lindsay, a junior in LAS, recommended Walker as a resident advisor. As a friend and fellow resident advisor, Lindsay described Walker as determined, motivated and balanced.

“He’s a great friend and he gives really good advice,” she said.

Walker said he strives to create meaning, whether it be in building community on his floor or creating his own “chaos” with his dance team.

“Being a resident advisor, you appreciate all the resident advisors you’ve had in the past and you realize how much work and effort goes into the job,” he said.