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Watts Headed to STARS College

Demario wattsLander University student Demario Watts was recently invited to attend this year's Association of College and University Housing Officers-International (ACUHO-I) STARS College in New Orleans, La.

Watts, who has been both a resident assistant and supervisor of resident assistants at Lander, is one of only 55 students selected for the three-day event, which features group presentations, mentoring, role play situations and other activities geared toward promoting student affairs and the university housing profession as viable career options. The opportunities to grow professionally continue after the event is over, as students can also participate in discussion lists and maintain the relationships formed during the conference.

Former Lander resident assistant Matt Hammett, the only other Lander student ever invited to attend the ACUHO-I STARS College, currently serves as assistant director of housing and residential life at Wofford College.

Watts, a junior sociology major from Clinton, said it was his experiences working as a resident assistant and head resident assistant that made him consider student affairs and university housing as future occupations. Both jobs, he said, have their challenges.

"You never know what you will have to deal with," he said. "It could be a noise complaint or helping someone sign up for tutoring. I do mediations between roommates, plan programs for my residents and try to build a community where everyone feels comfortable."

As a head R.A. this year, Watts also supervised seven other R.A.s. "It's hard being the supervisor of your peers," he said, "but I have learned more about myself through my R.A.s. I love getting their feedback and help, because there is no way I could do my job alone."

Asked what he likes most about working as an R.A., Watts, who is also the 2011 Homecoming King and the Lander University Man of the Year, said, "developing relationships with residents."

Chandler Darling, associate director of housing at Lander, said Watts has qualities that every R.A. should have.

"He takes the initiative, which is critical," she said. "He has excellent time-management skills, and he gets along with everybody so well."