Work, Work, Work (By Zoee D’Costa, Not Rihanna)

This week, junior Zoee shares with us what she loves about being a student tutor and a resident advisor on campus.

By Zoee D’Costa ’19, Biology & Society Major, Psychology Minor

When I came to Cornell I knew I was going to be working hard. But I didn’t know I was going to be working hard at something other than school. During my first two years at Cornell, I was a varsity athlete and was able to receive free tutoring through the athletic department in all my classes. I learned so much from these passionate student-tutors, and in my second semester, I became one. The following semester I also got hired as a Resident Advisor (RA). So my Cornell work became work, work, work.

A large poster depicting all of my 42 residents from last year was made to welcome all the students to the floor and hung in our floor lounge throughout the year. It says “High Rise 5 Floor 3’s Big Happy Family!”

Me with a sunflower I picked during our RA team-building retreat at Indian Creek Farm in August.

I love working both of my jobs on campus because much like being an Ambassador, they allow me to work directly with younger students and help them navigate all the opportunities and challenges the Cornell campus has to offer. As a tutor, I am able to help student-athletes with difficult courses of study and help them along the same path I took (as a pre-med student-athlete). This job also has allowed me to stay fresh on the subjects that I have taken at Cornell, which is very helpful for MCAT studying.

Me and some of my RA coworkers at CU Downtown, a large-scale program to introduce Ithaca to incoming freshmen during their first few weeks at Cornell.

This year, I am working as a Senior Resident Advisor (SRA) in the Mary Donlon community and through my job, I am able to work with other RAs and students, as well as serve as a supervisor in our community library. While it is a lot to juggle, I have found so many opportunities to grow from working on campus. Being an RA and having the opportunity to impact people every day has been a wonderful leadership experience for me, and allowed me to understand what it means to be responsible for people other than myself. I have gained confidence in my public speaking abilities as well as my ability to go up to new people and start a conversation (it is a lot harder than it looks, and it is something that you have to do A LOT at Cornell). The job has educated me in practical areas as well, teaching me how to remain calm in a stressful situation, how to handle medical emergencies, and how to be a good listener and friend. Being an RA has also helped me find some of my strongest interests and passions: discussing sexual misconduct and inequality in RA training propelled me to seek out organizations where I could help educate others, including Consent Ed, an organization in which I serve on the Executive Board. More than anything, it has given me the invaluable opportunity to grow into a better version of myself, learning to face challenges and be persistent.

All of the door decorations I made for the Donlon RAs this year to welcome them back to the building.

Canoeing on Beebe Lake with my residents!

I am grateful to have been given the opportunities I have during my time at Cornell, and I know that through them I’ve been able to develop into a stronger person. While balancing all of this has been somewhat stressful, I know that I am prepared to handle any of the work that the real world throws at me after college. No wonder Rihanna was complaining about all of her work, work, work – she never went to Cornell!