Student Life

Setting the Bar High for the Community Assistant Program

OCL Graduate Assistant Roy Kelly

By Elaina Taylor

Meet Roy Kelly – a spring 2014 graduate of JMU with a Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology, a concentration in Physical Health Education Teacher Education (PHETE), and a Coaching minor. Currently pursuing his Master’s degree in teaching, this grad student’s journey included first working in real estate and for the Chamber of Commerce. Now on the fifth and final year of the Physical Health Education Teacher Education (PHETE) track, Kelly is completing a graduate assistantship for Off Campus Life coordinating the Community Assistant Program. He credits his diverse work experience and built-up knowledge of the surrounding area as the reason he thought OCL would be a good fit, recalling “the timing just clicked.”

What is the Community Assistant Program (CA Program)? The CA Program partners up with specific housing complexes to create, market, and host fun events that build a tighter-knit community, all while tying in relevant, educational information. The aim is to help students make informed decisions that benefit their experience within the off campus community.

A program that has been four years in the making, this semester is the first time programming has been put into effect. There are two complexes currently working with the program – Copper Beech and Pheasant Run, and despite it just getting off the ground, “the complexes seem to love it,” Kelly said. As the coordinator of the program, Kelly’s position ties together aspects of event-planning, marketing, and education. Since the program is relatively new, he has been working to create a firm foundation for the program to build upon in the future. To increase visibility, Kelly is also working to provide a greater online presence. He is also trying to figure out ways to effectively market the program and create a consistent brand.

Kelly meets weekly with the Community Assistants at each complex to brainstorm events in accordance with monthly themes he has set in place. Due to a great deal of turnover within the Community Assistant positions, the themes will stay static and the jobs of the Community Assistants will be to create events centered around those themes and produce one event per month. Each event will have an underlying educational or service component that will vary depending on the theme, but center around helping the students take care of themselves and their community. By adding in service-related events, Kelly hopes to change the way the local community views JMU students. He also hopes to instill the desire within the students to maintain their community, while in school and beyond their time at JMU. Going forward, Kelly aims to “create an event planner with tasks broken down and everything that needs to be done” within his time here to ease the job for future Community Assistants. As the CA Program develops and expands to multiple complexes, Kelly aspires to move the program beyond just cookie-cutter events that could work in all the complexes. He would like to see the program become tailored to each complex and the specific needs and issues of each community.

Despite all his hard work, the inner teacher in Kelly continued to shine the light on the Community Assistants themselves and their work within the CA Program saying – “I think it’s less about me and more about the students working there,” and talked of trying to find “the best way to maximize their experience within this program.”

Kelly’s favorite part of the job is the creativity allowed for both him and the Community Assistants, as well as the impact the program has had so far even in its beginning stages.

Interested in learning more or working for Off Campus Life or the Community Assistant Program? Check out OCL’s website or email them at

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Published: Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Last Updated: Wednesday, April 1, 2020

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