Grace Hooley | Echo
Personnel Assistants (PAs) are pieces of Taylor's community that impact wings and floors in different ways.
Director of Residence Life Scott Barrett considers RAs and PAs the same thing, but he explained that back in the 1970s, someone wrote an influential paper over PAs. It pushed Taylor to see their leadership roles as educator and mentor roles.
"That translated to the work we do in residence life," Barrett said.
There are 71 PAs on Taylor's campus, and one of them is senior Nolan Willoughby. He has been PA of Second East Wengatz for the past two years, and during his experience as a student leader, he has found that the joys of being a PA outweigh the challenges.
There are 14 current PAs in Wengatz, and Willoughby found that those 14 men have a certain impact on their wings.
"It's a way to be more involved on the wing," Willoughby said. "Having that leadership role gives them a little bit more to do with the wing. It's a good avenue to connect with all the guys on the floor."
Both Barrett and Willoughby gave advice to upcoming PAs. Willoughby said that these new student leaders should not place pressure on themselves to be perfect leaders, and they should simply begin leading by creating relationships with people on their floors. He encourages them to be people others can trust.
Barrett encourages upcoming PAs to be empathetic but to also hold their fellow peers to a level of accountability. He said that human interaction can lead to some difficult situations, but that is bound to happen.
"Leadership involves some vulnerability," Barrett said. "It's about the relationships we develop rather than the position we have."
Barrett was also a PA during his time at Taylor. His sophomore year he was made PA with 10 seniors and 10 freshmen on the wing of Third East Wengatz. He was in a place of positional leadership, but others on the floor were leaders as well.
While those in residence life know about and hear the common myths surrounding who gets PA, such as: there is a certain type of person who gets PA, Barrett said that they try and eliminate a certain mold of what makes a good PA.
"Those differences that we have among us are a good thing," Barrett said. "As you look at our student leaders, there are some similarities, but there are also different people."
Residence Life looks for four different things when hiring PAs. They look for lifelong service and leadership, Christian community, inviting and appreciating diversity and spiritual formation.
While other schools may roll their eyes at Taylor for changing the title from RA to PA, the title PA reminds students that the role they have as these student leaders is so much more than just a job or leadership position.
"I think for me, ultimately, being a student leader is being willing to lead and grow and be a teacher," Barrett said. "A big part of what we're looking for is students who are engaged and who want to be a part of the community . . . that they care about others."