Ask an Antelope: Kelley Robinson creates a supportive environment for Lopers living on campus

When Kelley Robinson first started school at Wayne State College, she thought she wanted to be an English teacher. But after joining the Residence Hall Association her first year and later becoming a resident assistant at the northeast Nebraska college, she realized she could make that her career by educating and helping students during their time in college.

After finishing her undergraduate degree in English writing and literature with a speech communication minor in 2017, Robinson left the state to earn a master’s degree in higher education administration from Louisiana State University. She then accepted a job as a residence hall coordinator at Texas Tech University.

The Polk native returned to her home state in 2021 to be closer to her partner, who lives in Minden. She joined UNK that year as residence hall coordinator for Centennial Towers East and West and was promoted to assistant director of residence life in 2022.

Tell me about your job as assistant director of residence life:
As an AD, I supervise the residence hall coordinators and oversee the resident assistants program. I create intentional experiences to develop students through RA training and by utilizing our department’s “Be the Difference Curriculum.” I work with my team to develop the hall leadership experiences through the Leadership Advocates, Floor Presidents Program, Community Council, Residence Hall Association and National Residence Hall Honorary.

I really enjoy getting to know the RAs and the students I advise. I work to make sure things are running smoothly in the residence halls by supporting students and RHCs through various aspects of the role. I collaborate with lots of offices in planning training and programs, and I serve on some different committees to support students. I think the most important thing I do is creating strong student staff who support the students of UNK.

How does the Office of Residence Life help students with their transition to college?
When you move into the residence halls, the RAs are the first faces you see. The RAs hold a floor meeting that Friday night of move-in and make sure the students know the ins and outs (and rules) of living in the residence halls. From there, the RAs follow the curriculum we created to develop experiences for the students. The first of these is a conflict management series to help students understand how to communicate through conflict with their roommate or suitemate. The BTD Curriculum focuses on personal growth, professional growth and community engagement.

Students living in the halls also can begin their journey as a student leader by serving on the community council as a floor president. They get to plan programs for their peers and make sure that any issues or concerns are being addressed by RHA or hall staff.

RAs help students through their transition every day. They are friendly faces trained to provide help and resources to their students. They know all the offices and services on campus, and they are trained in crisis management to make sure students are well taken care of. The RAs perform nightly rounds to ensure safety and security and are always willing to help. Because they are upper-class students, they have so much knowledge to share.

Why should returning students live on campus?
Students living on campus have a higher grade-point average than those who don’t. Our proximity to academic and student-centered resources is at the center of our success. I believe that living on campus is so convenient. Classes, food and study spaces are all close by. Staying on campus helps you feel more connected to the UNK community.

What do you love most about UNK?
I love the students. I have really enjoyed getting to know the RAs and the students I advise. At the end of the day, the students are the reason I’ve stayed in higher education. I have gotten the opportunity to have such great conversations with students at UNK and build relationships with them. I always want them to feel like they can reach out to me for questions, a reference or even just some encouragement. I also have made some great friends in the UNK community, and I am so glad I got the opportunity to meet them.

Share a fun fact about yourself:
My typical fun-fact icebreaker is that I played rugby for two years at WSC, and my first year we won a national championship. I also played saxophone in my college marching band.

I have lots of nieces and nephews and I am so glad to be closer to them to see them grow up.

“Ask an Antelope” is a Q&A series highlighting UNK faculty and staff and their impact on the campus and community.