Gatepost Interview: Stephanie Crane, Associate Director of Residence Life

Jillian Poland / THE GATEPOST

What is your educational and professional background? 

I have a bachelor’s degree from Hartwick College in New York in psychology. … Then, I have a master’s degree in education with a concentration in higher education and student development from the University of Maine. I have been working professionally in Residence Life for eight years. I was an RA in college, and then when I was in grad school, I worked as a graduate resident director, and then I was a hall director, and then I was an associate director of Residence Education [at Becker College], and now I have the same title. 

What drew you to FSU?

There are actually quite a few people that I have worked with who have either worked at FSU or have a connection with FSU and always spoke really highly of it and loved the institution. Then, when I saw the job posting – it was a fantastic opportunity. When I came for my on-campus interview, it was actually everything they said it was, which you don’t always get when you go to campus. The tour guide, who was an RA, showed me around – everyone stopped and talked to him and they said “hi” to me and they didn’t even know who I was. It was just this great friendly environment that has pretty much carried over throughout my one month here. … And it’s a great opportunity to work on a larger scale in Residence Life. This program is a lot bigger than the one that I’m coming from, and I can really have more of an impact on a larger student population.

What motivated you to become involved in Residence Life? 

I think it was my experience my freshman year in college. I struggled to transition. They usually say there’s two reasons you get into Residence Life: you either had a great RA or you had a really bad one. And I had a really bad RA, who was the opposite of helpful. … And I didn’t want people to have the same experience that I had, so I started down the RA path. That’s where I met my best friends in college and found my community, which was really great. … As I progressed through, I’m still really passionate about the different transitions and think there can be a great impact in the residence hall on finding a community and finding your place here.

What is your favorite part about working in Residence Life? 

For me, especially now being a little higher up the food chain in Residence Life, for me it really is the RAs. I don’t get to know students as much on a one-to-one basis, but I still have the opportunity to connect with the RA staff and work with them to make sure that the residential experience is great. … It’s the students in general, too. It’s always fun to get to know people. I get to know a handful of students every year, which is really fun and great. It keeps me motivated and energized, and it keeps me in touch with what is hip and cool. … And it’s fun. No day is the same, so you can’t beat it. 

What is the most difficult part of working in Residence Life? 

I think the biggest challenges are sometimes overcoming the things you don’t have any control over. So, whether it is a building that might need to be rehabbed – I mean, we have beautiful facilities here at Framingham State – but sort of helping to create that community in a building that perhaps isn’t as popular or people may feel like maybe they got stuck there, that they’re not supposed to be there. I think that can be a challenge. … Also getting over the stigma that all we are here to do is be police officers and curb behavior, because I would put that way low on the list of what Residence Life is actually here for. We are obviously going to uphold the rules and make sure there’s not chaos, but at the same time, the biggest thing is creating that community and helping people find their place within the residence hall and within the college itself. 

What are your hobbies? 

I’m about to become a super-duper homeowner, so DIY projects. I’m obsessed with Pinterest right now and finding DIY projects. I’ve decided I can make a porch out of pallets, which, I’ll let you know how that goes. I’m an avid reader. … And he’s not a hobby, but my pride and joy – I have a 35-pound labradoodle, so he’s my little dude. I like walking with him and going on hikes and just enjoying being outside. 

What’s one book you would recommend for college students? 

To be quite honest, I’m not a big fan of the self-help genre because I’m a pretty cynical person at the heart of it. I honestly think the best books to read are sometimes unrelated to what it is you’re studying. And sometimes being able to take a book and use it as an escape – so maybe it is reading something like “The Martian” or, I don’t know, those silly “Divergent” books. Taking something that just allows you to escape and think about something completely unrelated because it gives your brain a rest and gives you time to recharge. 

What advice would you give FSU students? 

Take advantage of everything – there are amazing opportunities – and to take a minute to go outside your comfort zone. I would recommend everyone take some sort of study abroad trip, whether that’s a J-term trip going to India, or I know there’s an Ireland trip in the summer for two weeks. Taking some time to get outside of this bubble and explore the world because you’re going to maybe not have the same opportunities moving forward, so take advantage of everything and just gobble everything up. Say “yes” more than you say “no.”