By Katherine Yeager | Echo
As returning students move back on campus, they greet their DAs and PAs with smiles and summer stories. Incoming freshman and transfer students, still learning campus acronyms, hear "district attorney" and "public address" and are thrown into waves of confusion.
[caption id="attachment_11950" align="alignright" width="300"] DA Sam Carlson (left) and PA Janie Ellingson (right), both sophomores, are excited to welcome women to Second Gerig. (Photo by Naomi Page.)[/caption]
To define Personnel Assistant (PA) and Discipleship Assistant (DA) is to uncover the backbone of residence life and the heart of each PA and DA. Each one approaches this year from a different background but a united focus.
"I loved my experience as a DA, though like most learning experiences, it did not always come easily," said junior Andrew Hoff. "I didn't expect to grow in the ways that I did-everyone experiences the role differently. I learned to better listen and question and express emotion, and it is apparent that God used and uses the role greatly."
Hoff, the Second East Wengatz (2EZ) DA during the 2015-2016 academic year, now transitions into his role as wing PA. After training for both roles, Hoff cited regular and productive communication between the two positions as vital for development in the roles and in leadership throughout the year. The word "success," he said, is gray when working with people. After completing one year in residence life leadership, Hoff sees the importance of leading well rather than defining success by concrete standards.
"I'm extremely ambitious and excited for this year," Hoff said. "I know at the end of the year I'll look back, and it won't be exactly what I'm currently expecting, but I'm even more excited to see those unexpected hardships and successes that always accompany a role like PA."
Junior Caleb Grubb begins his second year as PA in a new residence hall. As a sophomore, Grubb was the PA on Fourth Gerig (FOSO). This year, he is a PA on First Breuniger. Grubb states that being a PA is a hard but rewarding task of service. "I've found some of my deepest friendships, sometimes on accident, by being in the role," Grubb said. He is looking forward to his second year, hoping to serve as Christ would with a new group of men.
On Third Center Olson (3CO), junior Katherine Fritzeen embraces her role as a PA, after most recently serving as a leader of TWO's Global Outreach Cabinet. Living on Third Center for the past two years, Fritzeen is thrilled to lead the wing alongside good friends.
She is excited to work with her co-PA, Hannah Sisson, and 3CO's DA, Lauren Baird, to pray, plan and prepare for wing life throughout the year.
"Hannah, Lauren and I are anticipating a really fun year," Fritzeen said. "We've been praying for humble and gentle spirits for the women on the wing as we walk alongside one another and bear one another's burdens."
Fritzeen is looking forward to talking with wing members about their ideas for pick-a-dates and wing events, implementing them and creating an enjoyable space for everyone. She has also enjoyed decorating the wing and imagining all the women moving in and admiring their new home.
"Our hope for this year is that we can all grow closer together as a wing but ultimately spur each other closer in relationship to God," Fritzeen said. "I am so excited, and honestly honored, to lead the wing in that."
This year's DA staff is just as excited. Sophomore Hannah-Kate Fox begins her first year as DA of Third Gerig. Fox began preparing for her role before leaving campus for summer break, meeting with her former DA and the DAs on the other two floors of Gerig to hear their thoughts and advice. As she begins the year, Fox has already planned events and floor fellowships while also continuing to grow in her own relationship with God.
Fox sees her role as developing and sharing the joy and pains of life with the individuals on the floor in a special way, ultimately pointing them to Jesus.
"It is so powerful and raw to hurt with and hold those who are hurting and to celebrate with those who are rejoicing," Fox said. "It's something we're all supposed to be doing and is especially relevant as a DA."
Sophomore Ellie Perkins also begins her first year as DA for Third Bergwall. Perkins' goal as DA is to both be discipled and disciple others as everyone grows in their relationship with Christ. She is excited to be mentored by Bergwall's graduate assistant, help facilitate small groups and create safe spaces for the girls on her floor to be open and vulnerable.
"Our college years are some of the best and most unique of our lives, but with that comes hurt, loss, grief, fear and a plethora of other emotions," Perkins said. "I hope, through God's grace, to provide a ministry of presence on my floor, where we can simply sit together to encourage one another and spur one another on in our faith."
As residence life training ends and halls fill up with familiar and new faces, the 2016-17 PA and DA staff is eager to serve and lead in a Christ-centered and encouraging way.