They are the friendly and supportive people who are there to talk when you need them, putting others before themselves. They know how to make others smile. They are the cake bosses of Principia with their treat-baking skills. They can be spotted playing intramural soccer or watching “Wheel of Fortune” in the Student Center.
They love to be involved and know what you’re up to. They are the people you go to when you need a puppy fix, and believe it or not, they know when you’re hiding a kitten in your room. They are here to help us grow. They are also here to see that the students in their house are being supported and loved each and every day.
They are your resident counselors (RCs), and they are worth getting to know a little better.
This year, there are five newbies: Ann Brown in Anderson, Dana Byquist in Buck, Shannon Carney in Brooks, Sam Gudger in Joe, and Paul Needham in Lowrey.
Ann Brown of Anderson
Before taking the job as a resident counselor for freshmen, Ann Brown had experience living and working with international students in Gehner House over break periods. She later filled in as a temporary RC in Joe McNabb for Nicole Van Hoose, now the current RC of Sylvester.
“This wave of emotion came over me. I realized I was really going to miss the girls that were leaving Joe McNabb. I was surprised at how attached I felt,” Brown told me as we sat on a couch in Anderson’s Hogwarts-esque living room. She was calm, cool and collected, and her whole face lit up with excitement as she talked about her experiences.
Brown was overjoyed when she got the position as RC for Anderson, one of the two freshman houses. Living in Joe and Gehner fueled her interest in interacting and building meaningful relationships with more students at Principia.
“It’s probably, out of all the jobs I’ve had, the most valuable because I have the opportunity to help people achieve their goals, deepen their understanding of themselves and learn more about CS,” she said. Brown said she has established a very special relationship with all 71 freshmen in the house – not an easy task.
“The freshmen are very engaging individuals. They have real hopes and dreams that they’re working towards,” Brown said enthusiastically. She also stressed the fact that she is not their mother or practitioner. However, she can act as a mentor and supporter of their personal growth. “This is home life, but in essence, this is character development,” she said of treating the students as adults.
Brown also loves being a part of all the fun that goes on in Anderson, which the resident assistants (RAs) also have a huge part in. Whether it’s a crazy hall meeting or a Rock Band party, Brown beamed at the thought. “I get to witness all of that! It’s so fun,” she said.
Dana Byquist of Buck
“When I first read the job description for this position, I said to myself, ‘This is all Dana,’” said Dana Byquist, also known as the Gentleman-in-Chief. Byquist has an approachable aura and a ready smile.
Byquist not only serves as the resident counselor of Buck House, but he also actively volunteers for the men’s soccer team and participates in intramurals. He loves to be involved on campus.
He also has a strong foundation in his knowledge of Christian Science. Before accepting the position here at Principia, Byquist worked as a research specialist for Longyear Museum. He also has a bit of a wild side as a former Lowrey man. He loves the fun and games of living in a house with a great group of guys, but he also understands the serious aspects. Byquist is your go-to guy for talking Christian Science, relationship problems or to just “shoot the breeze,” as he puts it.
“Connecting with people has been the most rewarding aspect of this job,” Byquist said. “I love being there for the guys.” He described the ideal man of Buck as “a true gentleman. They’re fun, friendly and open to having a good time.” Plus, they are known for their chocolate chip pancakes at their famous Buck Breakfasts.
Shannon Carney of Brooks
We spent the first few minutes of our interview talking about cats. Shannon Carney has three cute kitties, but don’t let that fool you: she is not an old cat lady.
For Brooks’ first house meeting, Carney opened with a spontaneous dance routine including “twerking, Miranda style.” If you have no idea what this means, look up “Miranda Sings” on YouTube. Carney’s epic dance moves were definitely a hit amongst the Brooks women.
“I can be silly and goofy, but I can also be spiritual and supportive,” she said. Carney is serious and passionate about what she does. “My job is to be a presence,” she said thoughtfully. “I make sure that students have someone to talk to.”
Carney lives by Student Life’s motto of “strive, conquer, love, give” and applies it to everything. She sees her job as an opportunity to live the practice, saying that “Being an RC means you have to stay steadfast in your thought so that you be supportive and on call 24/7.”
Sam Gudger of Joe
Starting from scratch, Samantha Gudger came to Principia not knowing a soul. A scary transition for most, the move from Seattle to the thriving metropolis of Elsah didn’t seem to discourage the fearless new RC of Joe McNabb.
She explained to me how her total reliance in God and Christian Science was what got her here in the first place. She loves the house and she loves her girls. “The house is very diverse,” she said. “Not just in terms of cultures, but also in different interests. We’re building and figuring out who we are and what our identity is.” In other words, Joe is a melting pot of culture and personality.
Gudger’s experience thus far has been an opportunity of “growth in grace” and her understanding of God. She works hard to find that right balance between family life in her personal life and her family life with the girls in Joe. “There’s so much in this job that you can’t really plan for. You just have to trust in God that He’s going to guide you.”
Paul Needham of Lowrey
Who better to fill the position of resident counselor of Lowrey than former Rackham Westie Paul Needham? He lives in Lowrey with his wife, education professor Winnie, his two sons Marshall and Magnus, and his dog, Misha, who has been known to poke his head into the rooms on the first floor.
Needham and his family are adjusting to the crazy atmosphere in Lowrey House. “Lowrey meetings are a spectacle,” he said with a grin. “I love that there are those types of things going on here. It brings me back to when I was in West. [Junior] Igor [Souza], the house president, listens and he’s thoughtful, but he can also be totally crazy.”
I asked him what he believes the true Lowrey man represents. “The Lowrey man is completely aware of his craziness and he would know how far to take his craziness.” When one thinks of Lowrey, images of half-naked men parading around campus in nothing but boxers and shaving cream usually comes to mind. But Paul assured me that the men of Lowrey possess a good balance between insanity and thoughtfulness.
The shaving cream, the pranks and the runs, though enticing reasons to take the job as Lowrey’s RC, are actually not what got Needham interested in taking the position. “I wanted to be more of a presence in people’s lives. I want to be able to be there for people. It’s my job, but it’s also very rewarding as well,” he said. Needham loves the guys of the house and the Prin atmosphere. “I’m basically a witness,” he said. “I’m really glad to be this witness of all the good that is about to unfold.”