Fort Hays State University hosts annual KARA conference

Ninety-one resident assistants from nine Kansas colleges filled Fort Hays State University's vacant dorm rooms over the weekend of April 1-3 as FHSU hosted this year's annual conference of the Kansas Association of Resident Assistants.

The year?s conference theme was ?Welcome to the Wild, Wild West: Pony-Up Your Res-Life Knowledge.?

According to Jennifer Cummings, FHSU residence hall complex director and conference advisor, the conference is held every spring semester and Kansas Regent schools take turns hosting and coordinating the event. "I saw this as a rewarding opportunity to give my staff the chance to coordinate something this grand of scale, so we took our turn this year," said Cummings. ?It gave our RAs the opportunity to network and exchange ideas with peers, and it?s our way of giving professional development to our staff.?

Participants attended sessions led by their resident assistant peers and received valuable information on programming and ideas to enrich the quality of their residence systems.

Their weekend also included fun activities and events, including a kick-off mini pep rally called "Roll Call," a ?Cowboy Casino Night? at Wiest Hall, an awards banquet at Union Station and a dance in Memorial Union's Black and Gold Room.

Representatives from Emporia State University, Fort Hays State University, Highland Community College, Kansas State University, Kansas State University-Salina, Pittsburg State University, Southwestern College, University of Kansas, Washburn and Wichita State University attended. Every college or university in the state of Kansas with a residential hall program was invited to attend.

All events and activities were held on the FHSU campus. "We incorporated our school as much as possible and used a lot of resources on campus," said Cummings. "The feedback we received from the visiting schools was they were extremely impressed with our classroom technology and of the college in general."

The KARA conference provided networking and leadership opportunities for FHSU resident assistants through organizing the annual event. "This was a huge marketing opportunity for Fort Hays State University. Some of the visiting resident assistants were from community colleges, and because of this event, they might become interested in transferring to FHSU and in being a resident assistant here as well."

In addition to the conference, KARA took part in a philanthropy project in which each attending college raised money to be donated to Save the Children. Together, they raised $500 and asked that the money go towards the Tsunami Relief Effort.

? Overall, it was a huge success,? said Cummings.

KARA is a student-run organization dedicated to providing information, communication, recognition and collaboration for resident assistants throughout the state and is used as an information resource for resident assistants as well as a means of connecting the resident assistant population throughout the state.

FHSU student resident assistants and faculty participating in the conference are listed by hometowns and classification.

Belleville: Melissa Mikesell, resident manager and student conference coordinator.
Bennington: Jason Crist, resident assistant, senior.
Great Bend: Jennifer Pekarek, hall director, graduate student; Amanda Goodwin, resident assistant, senior.
Harper: Ashley Inslee, resident manager, senior.
Hastings, NE: Amy Jensen, resident assistant, junior.
Hays: Ame Lambert-Aikhionbare, multicultural program advisor and Agnew Hall director, faculty.
Jennings: Jacque McKenna, assistant hall director, senior; Chris McKenna, resident manager, junior.
Lenora: Diane Becker, resident assistant, senior.
Lewis: Jodi Hoover, resident assistant, sophomore.
Marquette: Amanda Hopp, resident assistant, sophomore.
Osborne: Brian Mans, resident assistant, senior.
Rozel: Sarah Melia, resident manager, junior.
Sabetha: Allyson Plattner, resident assistant, sophomore.
Topeka: Erich Singer, hall director, special student.
Warren, PA: Jennifer Cummings, complex director, graduate student.

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