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RC Students talk about the RC

Briana Akani, RC 2016, Psychology major, Community Action and Social Change minor and Afroamerican and African Studies minor

Overall, my experience in the Residential College has been one of the best parts of my undergraduate career. Coming into university, I would say I was pretty shy and withdrawn, but being a part of the RC community helped me break out of that. I was able to find support from plenty of the RC’s faculty members, and not only was I encouraged to share my thoughts and perspectives inside the classroom, I also found plenty of opportunities to get involved and find my niche outside of classes as well. On a campus as big as ours, I was afraid of getting lost in the sea of tens of thousands of students, but the RC shrunk that down for me and gave me a place where I could feel comfortable and challenged at the same time.

Erin Burgoon, RC 2006, Honors Psychology

The interdisciplinary approach was what drew me to the RC. Nowhere else at U of M could I dive into the psychology of creative minds like Picasso and Van Gogh, analyze multiple facets of urban planning in Latin American cities all while speaking and writing in Spanish, or familiarize myself with Afro-Cuban culture and history through the learning and playing of traditional drumming songs.

The college within a big university concept made the RC a great home-base as an out-of-state student.  I had all the perks of the large university -- big lectures, sports, clubs, etc. -- but also had the instant comfort of small courses, one-on-one interaction with professors, and a built-in community of friends in the RC.

I am so thankful for the Spanish language immersion I had in the RC. I'm putting it to great use every day in my job at UCSD -- whether it's advising students, corresponding with visiting scholars and guest lecturers via phone and email, or setting up institutional partnerships with Latin American Universities.

Charles Cohen, RC 2015

The RC is fun, fun, fun. But it is more than fun. It's a fantastic new experience and there is so much to soak up here. I have met people from all over the country and world, learned so much, and it's never the same here in the RC. I live with a bunch of quirky kids, and I love it!

The RC Intensive Language program is just as it sounds. I took Spanish for four years previously, and I am not only getting a great review of what I've learned, I am learning more, and I feel more confident in my ability to comprehend the language.

Julia Field, RC 2013, Anthropology major, Urban Studies Minor

Having taken RC intensive Spanish I, II, and a the reading course, I came into Peace Corps with a solid understanding of Spanish. Being able to clearly communicate was crucial to my job performance, cultural sensitivity, and ability to integrate into the Dominican community where I spent two years. I still had a long way to go before becoming "fluent" -- I should mention that I struggled through the Intensive I and II -- but I cannot imagine coming into Peace Corps without my language training from the RC. RC language also prepared me in surprising ways. My readings course with Olga discussed feminism in Latin America. As I struggled to understand and make sense of the predominantly machista culture in the Dominican Republic, I often thought about the literature we discussed in her class and how the experiences of those writers related to my host mother and sister. The RC Intensive language courses went above and beyond language instruction - they introduced students to the history, current events, and cultural aspects of Latin American countries as well.

Katherine (Kate) Mitroka, RC 2008, Honors Political Science and German

The Residential College is a perfect way to get the small liberal arts school feel, yet still enjoy the benefits of a first-rate research institution with a big-school social life. I marked my time in the Residential College with late night discussions with friends, dance parties in the Benzinger Library, and romps around East Quad in the rain. I spent the first few hours of each spring listening to peers play music in the courtyard; I played make-believe across our stage in student and class productions; and, I sat for German Kaffee Stunde while Spanish, French, and Japanese softly teased the edges of my hearing. I met best friends upon whom I still depend and from whom I continue to learn.

In my experience, the students in the RC are engaged, socially conscious individuals from all different backgrounds and with all different interests. Its very easy to find people whose interests are similar to or compliment yours. Your fellow students will push you to question why and to what end you hold the beliefs, opinions, and impressions you do.  

The faculty welcome and challenge to you to step up to the intellectual plate and become their peers.  They are always available to continue a discussion from class, inform your first professional steps with the wisdom of their experience, or lend an ear to your struggles and offer guidance. These personal relationships afford invaluable perspective and are very helpful when it comes time to get letters of recommendation.

The staff likewise, are just great! Just as they help the professors and the institutions do their jobs, they work with you to book rooms, get appointments, or find resources for things you're working on. This is not something you'll find in large, impersonal institutions. They lead interesting, involved lives, and are fun conversationalists. Its also really nice when it comes time to get last minute transcripts or documents, to be able to pop by or shoot an email and have someone remember your name and be able to help you meet a short deadline without wading through red tape.  

Finally, the advisers are superb. For me, and countless others, Jennifer Myers was more than an academic adviser, she was a mentor. She takes time to get to know you, and is able to adapt her style and advice to what each student needs. She helped me craft my academic schedule. Without her, I probably wouldn't have been able to graduate  from LSA in just three years with an RC Certificate, a double major, and a honors thesis under my belt - all while having participated in student government, been active in the arts and my community, studied abroad, and interned with the British Parliament.

I am now in law school at the University of Michigan. While here, I have volunteered on pro-bono projects and interned with the American Bar Association. In the summer of 2010, I worked both for a non-profit, pro-bono law firm called the Public International Law and Policy Group in DC, and with the Army JAG Corps in Heidelberg, Germany. In the fall of 2011, I became certified as a Mediator in the State of Michigan. I have also completed an externship with the State Department Legal Advisor's Office at the US Mission to the UN in Geneva.

Brittany Simmons, RC 2018, RC Social Theory and Practice and Spanish major, Community Action and Social Change minor

I have always wanted to go to UofM, and once granted the opportunity to do so, of course I went. It was when I went to campus day that I realized how large UofM is, and how overwhelming that can be. When I found the Residential College, it was like a match made in heaven. In the RC I was able to settle into a community full of intimacy and a passion for language, arts, among many others things. Working in the RC admissions office has introduced me to current students, faculty, professors, prospective students with their families, and alumni. Living, working, and engaging in the Residential College has been a highlight of my college experience, and I couldn't imagine the University of Michigan without it.