By Kayllan Olicio
What is your educational and professional background?
I am a graduate of Framingham State. I graduated back in 2007. I was a communication arts major while I was here. I was super involved – one of those students who did everything. I was in SGA on the eBoard as the student activity treasurer and social events coordinator. I was on the eBoard of Hilltop at one point – directed a play. I’m a co-founder of Suit Jacket Posse. So, I did a lot and in doing a lot, it gave me the opportunity to look at student affairs. I was an RA, too – in Towers and Larned. I looked at moving forward in that field and became a resident director/student activity coordinator at Fisher College, which is a small liberal arts college in the center of Boston. I was there for five years. While I was there, I ended up getting my master’s in college student development and counseling at Northeastern University. While I was in school at Northeastern, I also helped to found their LGBTQIA center – the resources center that’s pretty active today. So, that was one of my accomplishments I’m proud of in grad school. Once I completed grad school, I started working. I came back here to Framingham, and I’ve been an area director in Towers for five years now.
What drew you to come back to FSU?
The thing about FSU that I love is the small community aspect and that it is also a leader in student affairs in the region. One thing that I’ve seen is that a lot of people that come to FSU go into student affairs. Something I’m proud of since I’ve been here – there’s been at least eight RAs that have gone into the field of student affairs and gone into res life or student conduct and other areas. So, we just have a really strong program and we are pretty well known in the region in that sense. I also wanted to give back the experience I had at Framingham and give that to the students here. I’m proud to have been a Framingham State student and I want to kind of help those navigate Framingham since I was in their shoes at one point.
What is your favorite part of being an Area Director?
I love working with the RAs and seeing them develop from when we first hire them and seeing them develop by helping support residents and by programming. But really, seeing them make that difference in their residents’ lives is really cool to see, especially since sometimes, they’re not going to see that immediate response from a resident they help, but over time, it really kind of clicks that they are really making a difference. And then just seeing the overall change that I’ve seen in the school happen since I was here – from a student, even from five years ago – and seeing the evolution of Framingham from when I was student to now, the inclusion and diversity that’s been here at FSU has increased. Even the responses to the heinous crimes that happened in Larned, the reasons of the students and their student voices have been really admirable and make me proud to be part of the community and to just stand up against that hate.
Do you believe being an alum helps you in your job today?
Yes, because I understand what it is to be an FSU student. I’m first-generation and I had to pay my way through college, too, without much assistance from my parents. I really appreciate the education we have here – just as far as the small school atmosphere here with the attention from the faculty and having that experience of really working hard, even just from the financial aspects. It really makes me appreciate their own experience and understand some of the struggles and challenges that they go through, which helps better support them during their time here.
What has been a memorable moment in your career?
Seeing some of my RAs from when I first interviewed them as freshmen or sophomores, and they’re a bit timid or unsure of themselves, and seeing that evolution of their journey here to when they graduate – where they are much more confident and able to handle many challenges that they might have been afraid of at the beginning of their time. Seeing that growth makes me proud to help them and support them through their college experience. And the corny thing about seeing them graduate, that’s also a great experience to see that. Even after they graduate, and seeing them come back, even as alumni, and being proud of where they came from – it warms my heart.
What advice would you give to FSU students?
Continue to use their voice and be knowledgeable about the issues that are happening on campus and in the world. A lot of times – at least definitely when I was in college – there was a lot of apathy, and there’s been a decrease in that – I love that. ... Apathy can be a poison. I would hope that people, especially people with privilege, are using that privilege for good and standing in and educating themselves for the good of the community.