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LLC’s create Post-It’s of positivity to encourage and inspire residents

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As we ready to close the first month into the Spring Semester, many students have begun to feel the rejuvenation of the Winter Break wear off, with the stress of classes taking its place. This air of stress and uncertainty can either be something students can easily overcome or can easily fall under its clutches. As one might expect, this stress over classes can lead to difficulty in excelling in the coursework and leave a scar of doubt in a student’s belief that they can succeed. Fortunately, within the halls of the Living Learning Communities, this problem has not gone unnoticed and not gone untreated.

The Residential Leaders within the Living Learning Communities carry the responsibility of providing support to the students residing in their communities. Under the leadership and support of Dr. Elizabeth Wallace, Director of Student Affairs Retention and Assessment, and Brittany Choate, the Residential Coordinator of Heritage Hall, the residential leaders are able to perform their task efficiently. 

As part of this effort Wallace and Choate, with the aid of Residence Life director Shelly Brown, challenged the LLC Residential Leaders to provide encouragement to their resident as they go through their daily lives. 

Photo courtesy of Bryan Hicks
A spread of positive notes authored by RL Bryan Hicks for his residence at Heritage.

“So…what we did here in Heritage is we all did letters of encouragement,” said Heritage LLC Residential Leader Bryan Hicks, “but with mine, I structured it towards the individual person. That way, it made sure they felt like they had a home at Tarleton and within my hall and our community.” 

Hunewell LLC Residential Leader, Matthew Taylor’s notes of encouragement came to life with a more digitized start. These notes were put together in Adobe Photoshop using inspirational content Taylor found online. 

“I wanted to put something together that was fully legible and still held that meaning,” said Taylor.

“I was blessed with handwriting,” said Heritage LLC Residential Leader Jenna Whitmire. “So I was able to write different notes to each [resident]. These small notes carried positive messages such as, ‘You’re not Alone’, ‘You Belong’, ‘You Can do This’ and ‘You are Loved’. Some of the saying were the same but I made sure that I put a note on each resident’s door that needed to hear what I put on the door.” 

“As an RL, we have to communicate with our residents,” said Hicks. “[It helps] to see with what they are struggling with at the time. Whether it be wanting to remain at Tarleton, wanting to change their major, or having a sense that they don’t belong in our community.”

“Each one needed to hear something different,” said Whitmire. “And when you interact with them you kind of know [that] what they need [to hear] is necessary. A lot of my residents can get lost in the mix of school and things happening. They all had their first test this semester, they all had. I had a couple [of my residents] tell me, ‘you know, I did not want to take my anatomy test or study for it, but you believed in me… [made me realize] I want to succeed because I want to believe in myself’.” 

This effort to be able to create a note of encouragement specific for their residents became very successful. Not only did many residents become uplifted from the noted but they were able to apply the notes into their daily lives. Hicks mentions that his residents took the notes he wrote for them and applied it in their room so that they can easily see it whenever they need it. Hicks also adds that many of his residence found more inspiration in leaving it on their doors, as it gives them a hint of positivity when they return after a long day. 

These notes of encouragement have certainly provided positivity, but the notion has also developed into something greater. 

“It turned into something more,” said Taylor. “A lot of students took it even further.” 

Photo courtesy of Matthew Taylor
A cut-out note of a rocket ship with a note of encouragement written on it placed on the door fo a resident in Hunewell.

Taylor explained that many of the residents in his residence hall were moved by the act that they left their own encouraging notes adorned with small candy and stickers on the doors of their hall.  

“One thing that took me [by surprised] was one morning [after I had placed my notes of encouragement], I was [changing my ‘Where am I’ board] and as I look, I see all of these sticky notes that my residents have put on my door,” said Hicks. “It was really encouraging to me because I put in all this time to serving them but then for them to give back to me. That was very impactful to me.” 

“I believe it’s help shaped [The Living Learning Community] for those students who really struggled with academics last semester,” said Choate. “I believe it’s really making a difference in our students lives if that RL’s can be that one person that the one student needs, it’ll keep them here at Tarleton and it’ll [encourage them] to graduate college one day.” 

The residential leaders have put in the effort to show their support towards their residents, but for some, this act means more to them than just to provide encouragement. Rather, this act stems greatly from the reason they became Residential Leaders in the first place. 

“Belief,” said Taylor. “It’s just something that is so imperative for these students. If they have someone that believes in them, it pushes them further to do more and to do better.” 

Taylor recalls during his time before arriving at Tarleton, he met someone who carried a lot of belief in him and pushed him to become better that before. 

“That simple belief this person had to push me so much further and I just hope to be able to give back to the residents here at Tarleton,” said Taylor. 

“I’ve always tried my hardest to diligently seek after what every resident needs personally,” said Whitmire. 

Whitmire mentioned how her first year experience at Tarleton was void of support from her Residential Leader, resulting in her feeling uncertain if she belonged. It is because of this, Whitmire has devoted her time and effort to become the support system for her residents that she did not have before. 

Photo courtesy of Matthew Taylor
A valentine’s themes note of encouragement found on the door of a resident in Hunewell.

“Everyone’s different and everyone needs something different from you,” said Whitmire. “And so, working with my full heart to just try to reach out to every single resident is super important to me. Doing something like this just makes it easier for us to start those conversations and to give that encouragement.”

While this positive effort may have spread deeply within the residents and the Residential Leaders, this is but only a step into the continuous effort of the Living Learning Community. 

“I definitely want to keep challenging [The RL] to do things like this in their hallway throughout the semester,” said Choate. “I think this is something that we’re going to strive to do. Leading authentically through different initiatives that we can do to keep the positivity going in the hallways even if it’s that teeny-tiny note that for one resident it could mean the world and can change if they stay here at Tarleton or not.”

Hicks hopes to start a program for his residents to promote self-care and self-love. 

“College is stressful,” said Hicks. “We all know that, but just being able to have that self-care and to know that you love yourself and that other people love you too. I try to be intentional and engaging with what I plan with my residents. I think right now self-care and self-love is definitely a big one that I want to try focusing on for my residents.” 

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