by Carissa Rutkauskas
Louis Cameron III (HESA ‘16) is no stranger to exploring new communities. Born in Würzburg, Germany, and having lived in or visited Georgia, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Costa Rica, Spain, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Boston, New York City, San Antonio, Washington D.C., and San Francisco, Louis is a self-declared extrovert who identifies himself as a Black man who has worked at and attended predominantly White institutions. He believes that equity-minded policies, practices, and programs for people with marginalized identities are essential, both inside and out of institutions of higher education.
After graduating from East Carolina University, in Greenville, NC (2013), the University of Connecticut Educational Leadership Higher Education and Student Affairs (HESA) program was Louis’ next stop. He describes those 2 years as the most formative years of his life. He looks back fondly at his time at UConn and went so far as to say, “I love everything about UConn”. Louis misses being at graduate school and the learning perspective it affords, where his cohort offered him opportunities to reflect on his assistantship, practicum, and readings with like-minded individuals.
Now the Resident Director (RD) for 310 first-year residents of Hardey and Cushing Houses on the Newton Campus of Boston College, Louis supervises a team of 12 Resident Assistants, one Graduate Staff Assistant, one Programming Graduate Assistant, and one Graduate Minister. In this position, his priority is to assist residents transitioning into the college environment, which is a great fit, as Louis is energized by working with first-year students. Recently he completed training his RAs, with a focus on rejuvenating his staff, and is looking forward to the RA selection process. At BC the RDs change residences each year, so he is excited about interviewing and selecting strong staff who will remain at Hardey and Cushing Houses in the coming year, carrying on his vision and excellence even after he has left.
While he enjoys the challenges of working in an environment different from his UConn experience, he knows he won’t remain in residential life forever, even though he was an RA as an undergrad. When Louis accepted his position, he had in mind a piece of advice given to him as a first-year HESA student by a then second-year HESA student: Your first position out of graduate school doesn’t have to be your dream job or your forever job. Think about the benefits and opportunities for growth it can provide you. As an RD, Louis sees an opportunity to work somewhere that provides housing, and where he can gain experience supervising a staff, training undergraduate students, overseeing a community, and facilitating conduct hearings. It is a generalist position in an institution that is different from his HESA experience at a large, public, flagship research institution: BC is a private, smaller, conservative Jesuit institution, with a much different student population, especially in terms of race and class. Louis’ time at BC is providing him with unique experiences, which include serving in an on-call duty rotation, furthering his passion area through the department’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion committee, and working with a diverse group of students, as well as colleagues that have a variety of professional competencies.
Looking forward, this RD sees his future intersecting four competencies: student conduct, ethics and morality, equity, social justice, and inclusion, and assessment, evaluation and research. Two of those four were strongly influenced by his HESA faculty, Cathy Cocks, director of Community Standards, and Dr. Milagros Castillo-Montoya, HESA professor:. “Cathy is a friend and mentor and inspires me in my understanding of student conduct and ethical fitness,” Louis said. “And thanks to Milagros, I know more about equity-mindedness and I am now obsessed with assessment—going into HESA, I did not like research or assessment, but now I’m a huge Qualtrics fan.”
Only time will tell which college or University Louis will call home in the future, but for now, he is settling into his role at BC as a professional, after 20 years of being a student. He is using this opportunity to work on his self-reflection as a practitioner, and to discover how to adapt his learning and developing for a non-academic role. Louis is looking forward to auditing a course on higher education public policy to expand his knowledge, and you might even see him on campus in May for the HESA graduation ceremonies!