'You are enough:' Advice for new students from Hopkins RAs

Seven resident advisors trained in university programming and community building share tips for new (and returning) students as they return to Homewood campus for the fall semester

Composite image of seven people

Image caption: The Hub spoke with resident advisers (top row, from left) Abigail Flores, Christian Dubon, Derin Adeleke, Joseph Oldam, (bottom row, from left) Kent Kotaka, Rhys Gough, and Richard Li

Credit: Will Kirk / Johns Hopkins University

This month marks the first time since 2019 that the full class of Johns Hopkins undergraduates will be on the Homewood campus for the fall semester. While it will likely be far from the college experience of past years, students still have much to look forward to this fall, including in-person instruction, extracurricular activities, and safe opportunities for socializing.

For tips on navigating the on-campus experience, the Hub reached out to a profoundly knowledgeable group of students: resident advisors. RAs dedicate countless hours to training, programming, and community building to strengthen the undergraduate experience for first- and second-year and transfer students. Here's what the RAs had to say:

Rhys Gough

Junior, Neuroscience

"Immediately, when I came back to campus, I felt nostalgic. For me, the past two years have really been about figuring out where my limits are. Where I really need to improve, not just academically, but personally. My advice for new students is not to think that what you come in thinking you're going to do is what you need to stick to."

Derin Adeleke

Junior, Chemical and biomolecular engineering

"Be open to new things, new friendships, new experiences, but also be safe in everything you do. Your college years go by really quickly, so take advantage of all the opportunities that are presented to you and make an effort to experience new things."

Richard Li

Senior, Molecular and cellular biology and public health studies

"It's definitely an energizing experience to be back on campus. This is the first time we're starting to get some restrictions lifted and there's a little bit more freedom on campus, so it's good to see everybody and actually hang out and catch up with friends.

"Your experience here is definitely what you make of it. The ball really is in your court. Obviously, do well in your academics, but take time to enjoy the little things because it goes by really fast and before you know it, you'll be regretting that you didn't enjoy yourself more."

RAs give peace signs as they help new students move in

Image caption: RAs help greet new students during Homewood campus move-in last weekend.

Image credit: Will Kirk / Johns Hopkins University

Joseph Oldam

Junior, Neuroscience

"Succeeding at Hopkins is all about time management. Try to plan out your time and figure out when you're going to study and do schoolwork and then make time to go hang out, explore the campus, explore the city—just explore and make friends that way.

"When it comes to making the most of your college experience, I think some Hopkins students get overwhelmed by their studies and get swallowed by their books. Try not to do that. Try to branch out, make new friends, try things that might be uncomfortable at first, but you might like eventually. Just explore as much as you can, because you only get the college experience once in a lifetime."

Kent Kotaka

Junior, Molecular and cellular biology and public health studies

"It's nice to see everyone back on campus and ready to start classes.

"My advice for new students is to make sure you connect with your RAs who can show you around campus. If you're struggling, we'll help you out, we'll show you around Baltimore.

"Also, cherish every interaction with friends. Hopkins is full of amazing people, and once we went online, I felt like I lost those connections. Now that we're back in person, I for sure would recommend, even more than pre-pandemic, cherishing those interactions."

Abigail Flores

Senior, Molecular and cellular biology, psychology minor

"I'm happy and excited to be back because it's been a while since I've seen so many people. And I can finally interact in my classes in ways that online unfortunately didn't provide.

"But it can be a little overwhelming to come back to campus, especially with everything that has happened in the past few months and years. Ultimately, new students should remember that you got into Hopkins for a reason and you are enough, no matter what happens. Because the pandemic has taught me that sometimes, you form a four-year plan, you feel like you're ready, and then things just come and upheave all those plans you had. The important thing is to be flexible and just know yourself, take care of yourself, and put yourself first, and things will end up the way they needed to be."

Christian Dubon

Senior, Molecular and cellular biology and Spanish

"Don't be afraid to reach out if you need help, whether it's to Res Life or an RA or to a professor. There definitely is opportunity to make connections online, but personally I find it so much better to do it in person and meet people face to face. The past two years have taught me that you can't really go about getting the college experience by yourself. You have to rely on other people to be the most successful version of yourself."