Junior Rosemary Pynes has been chosen as next year’s house director for the new dorm. Rosemary Pynes | Facebook

Con­struction on the new res­i­dence hall for upper­class­women may not even be com­pleted yet, but that hasn’t stopped its house director-to-be Rosemary Pynes and the group of girls that will become its res­ident assistant team next year from setting ambi­tious goals for them­selves.

According to Rebekah Dell, assistant dean of women, a new res­i­dence hall was nec­essary because Hillsdale College exceeded student capacity in cur­rently existing on-campus res­i­dences. The admin­is­tration deter­mined that junior and senior women needed a new res­i­dence hall just for them.

When the deans approached student leaders about what they thought would make a new res­i­dence hall fun to live in, they found what stu­dents really wanted was a building that could become more than just a place to sleep. They wanted a dorm that would become a com­munity.

“They have a twofold mission, as an RA team and as a res­i­dence hall,” Dell said. “First, to cul­tivate an excellent living envi­ronment for the res­i­dents. Second, to be a group of women who are invested in men­toring younger women and charging up the rest of campus.”

For Pynes, a junior who cur­rently serves as head RA of Olds Res­i­dence, that twofold mission is an oppor­tunity for upper­class­women to invest in the mission of the college and set an example for their younger peers of what it means to live in com­munity.

“Being off-campus can be a good envi­ronment for some people,” Pynes said. “But I think that some women move off campus and wind up slipping away from the wider Hillsdale com­munity. Having women on campus is so important to make sure nobody becomes dis­con­nected.”

Every­thing about the new dorm — from the double-occu­pancy rooms to the coffee shop on the first floor — is specif­i­cally designed to foster exactly that kind of com­munity.

“So many of our stu­dents come from out-of-state, so we want the res­i­dence halls to become a kind of home away from home for everyone,” Dell said.

All res­i­dence halls that pri­marily house freshmen have adult house directors, but the deans said student house directors — such as Pynes — are great at fos­tering that sense of hos­pi­tality in upper­classmen dorms.

“It’s a chal­lenging lead­ership position, but Pynes exhibits a perfect mar­riage of respon­si­bility and an ability to socially engage and com­mu­nicate,” Dell said. “You need someone who you can rely on to get the job done, but also someone who will work well with others. Rosemary is very well-respected by her peers because of this, so we were very drawn to her when we were looking for a house director.”

A former Olds head RA, senior Emily Barnum, called Pynes “an absolute gem.”

“She’s filled with such vibrant energy and love for other people, and she’s a won­derful woman of God,” Barnum said. “Rosemary is the best choice to be a house director. All the other dorms need to watch out — Simpson, she’s coming for your home­coming trophy!”

Hannah Fleming ’17, another former Olds head RA, said that Pynes’s expe­rience with Olds is part of what makes her so qual­ified for leading this new dorm.

“I look up to Rosemary, even though I’m older than her. She carries a wisdom and a dignity well beyond her years,” Fleming said. “When she inter­viewed for her first RA position in Olds, she was shaking she was so nervous. I think it really showed just how much this job matters to her, and how much she cares.”

Pynes pointed to an expe­rience she had as a freshman in Olds as an example of why her job as an RA matters so much to her.

“The second semester of my freshman year, [now-junior] Shelby Bar­gen­quast and I were walking through the student union and we bumped into one of the RAs we didn’t know very well, [now-senior] Claudia Sladick,” Pynes said. “She asked us to get a meal with her sometime, and that whole semester after we got that first meal, she was always checking in on us and I remember that rela­tionship making me feel so loved.”

Now, Pynes said that she hopes to bring that feeling to all of the young women in her care. She even said that her job as an RA isn’t some­thing she has to carve time out of her busy schedule for — it’s the thing from which she has to carve time for other parts of her life, like aca­d­emics and extracur­ric­ulars.

“I’m so sad to graduate next year and give RAing up, even though it’s one of the toughest things I’ve ever done,” Pynes said. “It has called strengths and virtues out of me I never even knew I had the capacity for. It’s the college expe­rience I’ll talk about forever.”

Annie Ingham, who will be the head RA of the new res­i­dence and cur­rently works under Pynes as an RA in Olds said she sees res­i­dence life as one of the essential expe­ri­ences of a liberal edu­cation. She pointed to a time that she and sophomore Michelle Reid stayed up late talking about Plato and phi­losophy.

“I didn’t really know Michelle before she was on the Olds RA team with me this year. One night, she was sitting desk, and we wound up talking until four in the morning about what Plato meant by ‘coming out of the cave,’ and how Hillsdale’s doing that to us, Ingham said. “We’re just not able to do what we do without those kinds of dis­cus­sions if we didn’t live in com­munity with each other. The whole point of these things, after all, is learning how to love better. Res­i­dence life gives you a chance to go back into that cave and help other people out, together.”

Pynes said that she learned from the lives of Mother Teresa and St. Thérèse of Lisieux that people show love through the small things in life. In her mind, that is the guiding prin­ciple of an RA’s job — to strive to put the res­i­dents at the fore­front of her mind, to pray for them, and to meet whatever needs they have.

“Our lives aren’t made up of huge, glam­orous actions. They’re made of little, small deci­sions,” Pynes said. “In res­i­dence life, that means doing things like dec­o­rating girls’ doors the first week of school, or doing the dirty dishes left over in the kitchen. That’s how you show people love.”

Car­oline Hen­nekes, a freshman transfer student who will serve as an RA and coffee shop manager in the new dorm, said that she fell in love with Hillsdale because of the way people like Pynes and Ingham think about their com­munity lives.

Hen­nekes said that one of the things she’s most excited to see about the new dorm is the way Pynes and others on the team will bring this attitude of servant-lead­ership to their work next year.

“Seeing Rosemary step into all of her lead­ership roles has just been really inspiring,” Hen­nekes said. “She can pursue her studies with her whole heart, but also always makes time to be friends with anybody who need her. She’s really going to be an incredible student house director, because she’ll set the perfect tone.”

Dean Dell said that she is very really inspired by the thoughtful way the new residence’s team has been approaching all the pos­si­bil­ities of a new building, and that she has the highest of hopes for their future.

“I have been so impressed, but not sur­prised, by the quality of stu­dents that are taking on this charge to build some­thing new and special for campus and how serious this new lead­ership role,” she said. “I think the world of Hillsdale stu­dents and what they’re capable of, and it’s very exciting to work with this par­ticular group of women. They’re going to be a great addition to campus life and student culture.”

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Michael Lucchese
Michael Lucchese ‘18 is majoring in American Studies, and is a member of the Dow Journalism Program. In addition to the Collegian, he has also contributed to The Federalist, Acculturated, Conservative Review, and several other publications. In 2015, he reported on national security and foreign policy for Breitbart News. He also hosts a weekly radio show, The Michael Lucchese Show on Radio Free Hillsdale WRFH 101.7 FM. e-mail: Twitter: @MichaelLucchese