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Colleen with a group of her residents

If you haven't already noticed, Dartmouth has its own dictionary of words. We call an email a "blitz," a group of freshman a "shmob," and crazy, colorful clothing "flair." So, it only makes sense that we have our own unique name for the position that is typically called an "RA" on other campuses.

For Dartmouth students, instead of residential advisors, we have Undergraduate Advisors, known as UGAs. These are the upper-class students (like me) who live with undergraduate students in residence halls to promote health, wellness, and safety, facilitate a sense of community, and advise students on anything from course selection to internship searches and everything in between.

My first experience with my own freshman UGA was the very first day I moved into my dorm. Having just finished an exhausting and exhilarating whitewater kayaking trip with a group of my new classmates, I was excited to finally settle into my new room -- but I was still a bit nervous to live on my own for the first time in my life. I was completely new to this whole 'college' thing and didn't really know where to start.

That's where Lloyd, my very own first-year UGA, came in. Lloyd popped his head into my room as I was unpacking and introduced himself, explaining that he lived just next door and was there if I ever needed anything. He talked about weekly floor meetings, meeting the other first-year students on my floor, and the types of community-building events for my entire residential cluster that I could look forward to in the coming days.

Throughout my freshman year, I became really close friends with my floor-mates, which I partially attribute to weekly floor meetings organized by Lloyd (and birthday parties/game nights organized by me and my friends) that brought everyone together regularly! So, when UGA applications were sent out my freshman winter, I decided to apply. I had learned that building community and promoting inclusivity was not only something I was passionate about, but also something I was pretty good at. 

Now, as I finish out my second year as the UGA for the Dartmouth Entrepreneurial Network (DEN) in Residence, I cannot imagine what my college experience would have been like without this role. I have grown personally and professionally, and I've gotten the chance to meet some pretty incredible residents and co-workers along the way!

Coming to college for the first time can be scary -- I was definitely nervous, considering I didn't know a single person in my incoming class prior to my arrival on campus. BUT, as you prepare to come to Dartmouth, just know that you'll have at least one friendly face during move-in day -- your wonderful neighborhood UGA!

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