Spotlight: Deena Agamy, Resident Adviser
New York, Massachusetts, DC, Charlottesville, Hawaii, Washington, Germany and now Harrisonburg have all been home at some point to Deena Agamy, a junior psychology and political science double major. Technically an international student, Deena has made a new home at JMU despite the fact that her parents are over 4,000 miles away in Germany.
Unlike many JMU students, Deena found JMU completely by accident. While applying online for Washington State University, she realized the two schools had the same application platform and easily applied for both with one click. She knew she loved Virginia from living here for a period as a child and after some research online she fell in love with JMU and its campus.
After being accepted and packing everything she thought she’d need for her first semester into three suitcases, she made the transatlantic trip with her parents. When she finally arrived at JMU she knew absolutely no one, so she had to start from scratch.
Deena immersed herself in activities on campus by joining the Marching and Pep Bands, as well as becoming the President of To Write Love on Her Arms, a National Organization that focuses on spreading hope and a sense of community to anyone who suffers with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide.
While searching on Joblink for work on campus, Deena came across a posting for RA positions and applied. After learning more about the job and completing the interview process, she knew she had found the perfect fit.
“My entire experience would have been completely different if I hadn’t gotten involved on campus in my first year.” Deena now uses that knowledge to help get her residents involved with something they are interested in.
Deena knows how important it is to find people and places that make you feel comfortable if you are going to succeed. It turns out that becoming an RA is just one more way Deena built her JMU community.
“Residence Life is a really great community,” she said. “I had no idea how much I would get to know all the other RAs and how much I would connect with them through this job.”
An RAs main job is to create positive communities on campus. They achieve this by making sure residents are safe, which includes following and enforcing residence hall policies.
“I’ve managed to get some of my residents to realize that I’m not just out to get them and that I’m not a mean person,” she said. “I try to tell them to think of me more as an older sibling opposed to their mothers. I’m a disciplinarian but at the same time still able to have a friendly relationship with them.”
A lot of what she has learned as an RA can also be applied to other aspects of her life, for instance the important of respect and being present in anything you do.
“I feel like if I wasn’t present in my building or if I didn’t treat my residents with respect, then they would treat me the same negative way,” she said. “The communities we have in our halls are as easy to ruin as they are to build. If you put yourself out there and give your residents a piece of you, they will give a little of themselves right back.”
Building a community and a home thousands of miles from her family seems to have come easily to Deena once she started putting herself out there. She’s not only a great RA, and soon to be Hall Director, but also a wonderful example for any freshman that is looking for their place at JMU.
By Megan Martin ('11)