The Women in Housing series is a month-long project featuring the voices, stories, and experiences of women who currently or formerly work in housing and residence life. Today's post was written by LaTrina Rogers.
I work at Ranken Technical College in St. Louis, MO. My institution is non-traditional, just like I am so the fit is perfect. Ranken started a residential life program in January 2008. This completely changed the culture of our campus. Since 1907, Ranken Technical College has been a commuter campus so the idea of students being on campus around the clock was alien to everyone. The establishment of housing changed the culture of campus tremendously. The female student population on campus has always been low due to the degrees offered. There are not many females running to learn about skills in automotive, computers, carpentry or heating and cooling. The student, staff and faculty population are majority – 85% -- male. Out of 130 residents I have six female residents.
The females attending Ranken deal with being in a man’s world very well. As a female at a male dominated institution, I know the challenges our female population faces. We have to balance our actions and reactions to be viewed as valuable and relevant. We don’t want to be labeled whiny, too girly, too aggressive, and too passive or whatever else the majority population will use to describe us. Life on campus for a female can be a challenge.
I made it my personal mission once I started in housing to make sure my female residents learned how to do the same. I started a monthly meeting of the females in housing. It has been named Women of Walker (we live in Walker Residence Hall). I meet with them to plan outings, have vent sessions, work out issues or just be silly and have girl talk. We have completed craft projects, walked the mall or simply went out for ice cream. These times are part of my personal time, which they seem to be shocked by on a regular basis. Their experiences are important to me because when you are in a male dominated world the support of other women is important. I call them “my girls” because they are so close to my heart. We’ve laughed, cried and pressed towards valiant efforts to ensure their greatness. The best part is they have no clue in the midst of their “be” times, I’m uplifted. I’m forever grateful that this is my work.
The real mission is to create a safe space for them to just… be. Whatever their version of being is in life, they need space to express that. I’ve witnessed their “be” expressed as silly, sorrowful, grateful, compassionate, frustrated, hurt and so many other adjectives. Women often do much with little to no appreciation. My goal is to work in the midst of their “be” moment. I work to uplift, affirm the positive, show the teachable moments in painful times and to let them see some of my “be”.
The truth is being a woman in leadership is never easy. There are those who support your efforts and others who don’t but you press through anyway. I am a person who loves providing resources and opportunity for others. I am a minister so people are my calling. I had no idea until I started how true my call was to the world.
LaTrina Rogers is the director of residential life at Ranken Technical College in St. Louis. She previously held the position of hall manager at the inception of the department in 2008. She has been at Ranken for ten years and has held positions as admissions counselor and community liaison. She currently serves as president of St. Louis Area College Housing Association (SLACHA).