All the way from Garland, Jackie brought her great spirit and character with her. Jackie’s also an advancing student, taking dual enrollment at her local community college and earning her associate’s degree. She came to UNT last year and became a McConnell RA, a so far interesting opportunity.
Jackie had lived at Maple last year and had applied to be a main housing RA for the 2015-2016 year. Unfortunately, or fortunately for us, she didn’t make it into the main housing, she had gotten waitlisted. At the time, McConnell had needed two RAs. “Caleb, the front desk staff, he gave me a call, asked if I would be interested in doing an interview for McConnell, and I said yeah.” She started to get ready for the interview a day after they called. “I looked at all of TAMS, I looked at everything that was on the website, and I looked through the handbook. I looked at the RA handbook. I looked through everything.” She proudly continues, “when I went and they interviewed me, I was spouting out all these facts, like ‘yeah, they’re not allowed to have a car till second year’, and ‘their curfew is at 11 PM’, ‘they have visitation hours’, and they’re like ‘you really know your stuff’ and I’m like, ‘because it’s really important that I know things about yall.”
Jackie’s experience as a McConnell RA was an interesting change and opportunity for her, especially compared to her experience and knowledge with UNT main housing. “I honestly wasn’t sure what was going to happen,” she admits. “I was really worried my first couple of weeks that I wouldn’t get to know the residents of this wing, that I wouldn’t get to talk to them, because in main housing, you don’t really see your RA a lot.” She enjoys the opportunity for connecting to the students that McConnell Hall provides with wings. “I guess during room checks, it makes it a lot easier to make a connection with them, because I have little inside jokes with residents, or I know what’s going on their lives, and they know what’s going on in my life. So that’s something pretty cool.” One thing about McConnell’s unique residence setting that Jackie likes is the age group. “I’ve always enjoyed being in a high school-ish setting, I just like that age group.”
Jackie talks about her position being older than others as an RA at McConnell and a secret responsibility. “The things that you don’t get told about, probably have, a resident who wants to talk to you about a personal matter, and you don’t really get told that you’d have to do these things. But when you have to do them, you kinda have to step into the mindset of ‘I’ve got a person here who looks up to me. Let me be a mentor to them.’ That’s a secret duty, but it’s one that you learn from that experience as well. “ She giddily talks about being available for confessions and conversations. “I’m a sponge, tell me your problems. I’ll listen. I mean, I may not have anything to say, but at least you got it out there. I like being people’s diaries. I love knowing people’s secrets, I’m very nosy. Tell me all your stuff. I won’t tell anyone. But just, I wanna know everything.”
She explains how she feels about the TAMS residents in general. “There’s not that whole thing of ‘hey, you’re younger than me or you’re older than me so I’m not going to listen to what you have to say.’ We all just have mutual respect for each other for everyone here cuz we all live under the same roof.” One of her RA duties she enjoys is working desk. “I personally, I like working desk, because I get to see you residents a lot and there’s a couple that always come up to me while I’m at the front desk and that’s really cool. I really like it when they come up. I try to do homework, I never get it done.” She’s also impressed with TAMS intellect and skills, continuously saying “You guys are all wicked smart, too, so I’m constantly impressed by the stuff you guys do.” She also admires the TAMS program in general, regretting that she didn’t know about it and wishing she had tried to apply instead of the associate’s degree program. “You guys have your extracurriculars, because you guys have your, you know, programs, you have your GAs, you have all that stuff, that I feel like I would’ve have gotten if I had left my dual enrollment program, that my mom had wanted me to do. And so, the fact that you can have a college life, and a high school life all in one, I think that’s a neat program.” She believes it’s really beneficial to the students.
Jackie’s father has heart issues, and this has influenced her in many ways. One way it’s majorly influenced her is how it got her interested in the medical field. When Jackie was in 9th grade, her father had passed out from heart failure. “So they kept him in a hospital for about a week and the doctors were talking, and they were saying all these things, and I couldn’t really understand what they were talking about, like I didn’t know anything about the heart other than the fact that it was an organ inside the body. So I would research words that they said, words that they had written down, I just researched about the heart in general. Then I became really interested in that. And I had always wanted to do something medical-related since I was in 6th or 7th grade, and since the heart was really fascinating, I decided that I would want to go in, that if I did go to medical school, and I went through all that, then I would want to specialize in the heart.” Jackie is also interested in surgery, so her goal is to become a cardiovascular surgeon. She really appreciates what the doctors did for her dad and it inspired her and also contributed to her decision. “They have saved my dad’s life. So I wanna be there for someone they were doing it on, they save people’s lives so they can have their loved ones back.”
Jackie’s still a student, just like us, with a study life and down time. “I should definitely study more than I do,” she admits. This week she started to study for her test on Thursday early, starting on the Saturday she was interviewed, and believes that it’s a step in the right direction. TAMS was a positive influence on her, though. “I definitely don’t go out as much. I don’t spend as much money.” That was a huge improvement from what she did last year. “I had a whole bunch of money saved up. Just going out with my friends all the time last year, all my money is gone.” Jackie is currently in MDSO, medically dedicated student organization. Jackie also is very interactive with her professors. “I also am close to some of the advisors and like department heads on campus, so like a lot of science professors, a lot of science advisors. I know them pretty well, so I talk to them a lot. I have lunch with them sometimes. They just tell me things that’re going on in like Biology.” Jackie comments a few things she likes to do in her free time. “Really free time, I just kinda sit around. I have a puzzle in my room that I haven’t finish yet. But yeah, it’s like whatever. I like to color too.”
Jackie was involved in a range of activities in high school. “I was in band, color guard. Toss that flag. I did, I technically wasn’t in theater, but I participated in the musicals. I love the 80’s, by the way. I think that I was born in the wrong decade, by the way. And then, HOSA. I talked to every teacher, in the building, they all knew me. They probably all got annoyed by me. It’s fine, and then choir.”
One thing Jackie would like to advise people is to branch out, which she recently learned through experience. She talks about two experiences in particular which taught her this. The experience of coming to TAMS itself showed her this. “It kinda separated me from all my friends, and it was really hard for me to see other people. I kinda just stayed talking to a couple of RAs and my ex-girlfriend and then we broke up. It made me realize I need to talk to other people. And so I started talking to people on campus and I started talking to more residents here, and I started talking, I just started becoming more ‘Oh I can’t depend on one person for everything so I’m gonna like talk to other people’.” The other instance she learns this life lesson is when a friend contacts her. “It’s just who you’re with. I realized that when my friend texted me ‘you wanna get lunch? I haven’t seen you in a month.’ I was like ‘Yeah, let’s go get lunch.’ We went to the Union, and we sat at a table and we talked for 30,40 minutes. It was great. We talked about what we’ve been doing, how things have changed and yeah. I told her ‘let’s meet up again next week.’ So don’t forget, that even in down times, there are still people around. Remember you have more than just one friend.”
“But, even if you’re single, even if you’re with someone, make time to hang out with different people, because you have all these different stories you have to tell. Like, don’t just hang out with the same people all the time.”