Taylor Soucy’s dorm room was a disaster.
Soucy, a sophomore, arrived at Penn State’s Wolf Hall around noon Friday after a four-hour drive from her home in Delaware. She brought in three loads from car, dumping it all in her unit before organizing the mess — a doorway filled with empty boxes, her stuff covering her roommate’s bed.
But it was nothing Heather Foltz hasn’t seen before.
Foltz is the resident assistant for the second floor of Wolf Hall — an all-female floor with a mix of 40 first-year students and upperclassmen. It’s mostly made of science students.
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By graduation in May, Foltz — a senior nutrition science major — will have spent nearly three years as an RA. It can be a demanding job, but she said it has more pros than cons.
“It’s been really interesting,” Foltz said. “I’ve always had a variety of residents.”
On Penn State’s first official move-in day, she was one of the legions of “welcome week” volunteers and workers guiding and assisting students like Soucy, who toiled to settle in before her roommate, Victoria Spadafora, arrived the next day.
“It’s been a great day; it’s good to be back,” Soucy said. “I got here early because I wanted to get my stuff done before she (Spadafora) came and we weren’t in each other’s way.”
Soucy, a Schreyer Honors College scholar, wasn’t a rookie to the challenges of moving, but even an old hand will have questions now and then.
That’s why Foltz was there.
She spent most of the day helping students move into their units. The biggest tip she could offer was “to have patience.”
“It’s been busy, but a really nice steady kind of busy,” Foltz said. “My job is to be here for them and be on alert.”
Friday started at 7:30 a.m. for her, the latest in a string of long days. All week she had worked to make the move-in a smooth transition.
She customized name tags taped to the residents’ doors, just one of the many necessary preparations. Last Saturday, Foltz and six other RAs from Wolf Hall took training courses before students rolled into campus.
International students were able to move in on Monday. For a fee, other students could move in throughout the week, Foltz said.
But the real wave came Friday.
As students entered their units, Foltz introduced herself and told them about the residence hall amenities, including community bathrooms and newly built community rooms on the first floor.
But Foltz was hardly the first person to lend a helping hand.
Mark Rameker, senior associate director of residential life, said that several hundred student volunteers helped direct traffic, pass out temporary parking passes and assist students with carting around their belongings.
“It’s been smooth today,” Remeker said.
He added that a group of university officials have met since February to plan for move-in day.
“It’s something that’s been going on for several years, so we got this down pat,” Remeker said.
Senior Matt Maloney has been on the parking crew for four years.
On Friday, he and fellow students Zach Burke, Jason Kohler and Becca Meyer directed traffic into the Pollock Halls parking lots.
“We’re just keeping things under control,” Maloney said.
The welcome week workers were split into two shifts that will work with residents through the weekend. They started at the beginning of the week and even stuck it out during Wednesday’s rain, Meyer said.
In his second year, Kohler said the first day of move-in was slow compared to last year.
“It was nonstop,” he said of 2013’s crush. “This year, we’re less rushed and have more opportunity to facilitate things.”
The group is expecting Saturday to be the busiest day.
On Friday night, Foltz held an informal floor dinner. Saturday, she’ll hold a mandatory floor meeting that will address residence hall rules and policies.
“We really stress things like quiet time and other community standards, like not having alcohol on the premises and fire safety,” Foltz said.
And while it’s been a 24/7 job for her, being an RA is well worth it.
“There is a lot on your plate and you’re always the first to hear about any troubles,” Foltz said, “but the pros … you get a room, meet new people and learn a lot that really pays off.”