Editor’s Note: This story, written by educational leadership program coordinator Carissa Rutkaukas, originally appeared on the Neag School’s Higher Education and Student Affairs (HESA) program website.
Louis Cameron III ’16 MA, an alum of the Neag School’s Higher Education and Student Affairs (HESA) program, 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, Cameron is a self-declared extrovert who identifies himself as a Black man who has worked at and attended predominantly White institutions. He says 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, N.C. in 2013, the HESA program in the Department of Educational Leadership at UConn’s Neag School was Cameron’s next stop. He describes his two years in the HESA program as the most formative years of his life. “I love everything about UConn,” he says. Cameron says he misses graduate school and the learning perspective it affords, where he says his cohort offered him opportunities to reflect on his assistantship, practicum, and readings with like-minded individuals.
Today, Louis Cameron III ’16 MA serves as a resident director for 310 first-year residents on the Newton campus of Boston College and supervises a team of 15 individuals, including 12 resident assistants.
Now the resident director (RD) for 310 first-year residents of Hardey and Cushing Houses on the Newton campus of Boston College, Cameron supervises a team of 12 resident assistants (RAs), 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 Cameron 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 Boston College, the RDs change residences each year, so Cameron says 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 even after he moves on.
While he enjoys the challenges of working in an environment different from his UConn experience, Cameron says he knows he will not remain in residential life forever, even though he was an RA as an undergraduate student. When Cameron accepted his position, he says 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 does not 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 at Boston College, Cameron says he 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 at an institution that is different from his HESA experience at a large, public, flagship research institution. Boston College is a private, smaller, conservative Jesuit institution, with a much different student population, especially in terms of race and class.
Cameron’s time at Boston College is providing him with unique experiences, he says, 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. Such competencies were, he says, strongly emphasized by his HESA faculty at UConn, including Cathy Cocks, director of community standards at UConn, and Milagros Castillo-Montoya, assistant professor and interim director of HESA.
“Cathy is a friend and mentor and inspires me in my understanding of student conduct and ethical fitness,” Cameron says. “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 Cameron will call home in the future, but for now, he is settling into his role at Boston College as a professional, after 20 years of being a student. He says 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 nonacademic role. Cameron says he is also looking forward to auditing a course on higher education public policy to expand his knowledge. You might even see him on campus in May for the HESA graduation ceremonies.