Meet Sarah Rossini, Catawba's New Director of Residence Life
September 13, 2010
Sarah Rossini, Catawba College's new director of residence life, feels that her job allows her to "make a difference" in the lives of students.
"My student interaction is my absolute favorite thing — helping students develop and get ready — and being a part of helping them get ready for what's next," she explains.
The Boston native remembers discovering her calling while she worked as a resident assistant in undergraduate school at Merrimack College. "I liked it," she remembers, "plus it helped me pay tuition and I needed the money."
Rossini finished her bachelor's degree in psychology at Merrimack in three years and went straight to graduate school at Bridgewater State College. She was lucky, she says, because Merrimack created a graduate assistantship for housing and residence life that allowed her to stay at her undergraduate institution and work there part-time during her first year of graduate school. It was during that first year as a graduate assistant at Merrimack that Rossini realized, "I sort of love this."
"It was really the first time in my life that I saw me making a difference in other people. There were eight first-year males on one floor whom I really credit my career to — they were the first group of students I worked with. They let me in, understood my job; it was more family than work for me."
As Rossini completed her final two years of graduate school, she worked fulltime at Merrimack as residence director, responsible for two buildings of 308 first-year residents and 11 resident advisors. After completing her master's degree in clinical psychology at Bridgewater State in 2007, she resigned her position, married husband Nick, and "moved 800 miles away from my family all in five weeks."
Rossini's move landed her at a large public university in North Carolina — UNC Charlotte — where she worked as a residence education coordinator and an adjunct professor while she began taking courses for her doctorate in educational leadership and higher education. Her stay at UNC Charlotte lasted three years until she felt drawn back to a small private institution and applied for a position as residence life director at Catawba. She began her new job at Catawba in July of this year.
Since then, she has worked on room assignments, extensive resident assistants' training and getting her team of 26 resident assistants to function as a team. "I'm a firm believer in the idea that the job of the R.A.s is to build relationships in addition to policy enforcement, safety and security," she noted. "I really believe that people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."
Although the new academic year has only just begun, Rossini is making programming plans for the resident students on campus. "You really should get good stuff living on campus! There are benefits; it's not just a bed — it's community, friendships, unity, being part of something bigger."
Rossini and husband Nick, who works at Yadkinville Community Bank in Statesville, make their home on the Catawba campus with their dog, Lady. When not working or attending classes, Rossini might be found taking photos or spending time on the lake with Nick and Lady.