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Nic Neuenhoff
The college search process can be overwhelming. No matter when you start your research, you'll have the same questions as thousands of your peers. What program should I choose? How far will I be from home? When do classes begin? Your list of inquiries can seem endless at times, but you're working toward one common goal: finding the ideal start to building your future.

So, what happens when you make that ultimate decision, only to find out it's not the perfect fit? Nicholas Neuenhoff, of West Monroe, New York, asked himself this important question not too long ago while attending another institution before transferring to Cazenovia College.

Neuenhoff, a management major specializing in accounting, transferred to Cazenovia College at the beginning of his sophomore year. He says, "Coming in as a sophomore was tough - I arrived early, with the freshmen, but lived in an upper class residence hall; the only people in my building that first week were the few other transfers and the resident advisors."

Nic spent a good deal of time in the Resident Advisor (RA) office during his first few days at Cazenovia. Later in the semester, one of the RAs suggested that he apply for a work study position as residential security aid (RSA), assisting the RAs during their office hours. "I began the job and I loved it," he says. "The RA staff members became my friends. The more I hung out with them and worked for them, the more the question came up, 'Are you going to be an RA?'"

The students weren't the only ones who noticed Neuenhoff's potential as an RA. Tiffany Varlaro, associate dean of residence life, recognized early on that Neuenhoff was a prime candidate for an RA position. "From the time Nic began working as an RSA, I could tell that he was very caring of others. He was always trying to find ways to improve himself in order to better help others. He's a very busy guy, but he will drop everything to help a fellow student."

With some trepidation, Neuenhoff applied for an assistant RA position in his residence hall and went through the interview process, which begins with group process evaluations, where applicants are divided into small groups and given tasks to complete as a group. He says, "I was ready for this because of all the time I was spending with the current RAs. I was relaxed and I tried to be both a team player and a group leader."

The individual interview was another story. "I don't do well speaking in general and when you put me under pressure, I tend to crumble," says Nic. "But I prepared well, so even though I was very nervous, the hard work paid off in the end. I was chosen to be part of the Hubbard RA staff for 2012 - 2013."

Even before he joined the RA staff at Cazenovia, Neuenhoff began to form relationships with fellow students, some of whom seemed to think college life should be a constant party. Nic says, "I don't drink or smoke, and that's become kind of a running joke because, at first, many of these students didn't think that was cool. But it is cool, because I have developed relationships where we can have inside jokes and have a good time together even though we have different hobbies and beliefs."

Neuenhoff came into the position knowing what he expected of himself as an RA. Varlaro says that since taking the job, "Nic has learned that he can be an example. He's learned to understand the different aspects of character - that people with different values can find common ground."

As an RA, Nic says, "I've developed deeper level relationships with people I would never have spoken to otherwise. I think I've made a difference - at least to all the students who have settled down, maybe started to mature," he laughs. "I'm not just a position; I am someone residents can come to if they need anything."

In addition to his interest in the RA aspect of college life, Neuenhoff understood from the start that extracurricular activities were the key to having a social life. He says, "In my first semester at Caz, I joined the Campus Activities Board (CAB) to have something to focus on in my free time. I started as the public relations coordinator and soon found myself filling in as the club president."

At first Neuenhoff was worried about maintaining his good academic performance while fulfilling his commitment to finding ways to create a community in his residence hall. "I was responsible for the needs and well-being of 30 people, some of whom I hadn't even met before, and some who might not care at all about being part of a community," he says. "But everything fit into place."

Neuenhoff's social life has spread to include membership on the Student Government Association as the CAB representative and he is the student representative to the College's Strategic Planning Committee, which is engaged in creating a plan that assesses the College's needs and direction for the next three years.

He wanted to join men's crew, but he laughs, "I was the only guy who signed up, so I was invited to be a student coach for women's crew. I also belong to Improv Anonymous - we are kind of a comedy club; we improvise skits - kind of like the TV show, 'Whose Line is it Anyway?' We never know what we're going to do until the night of the show. Then we just basically get up and make fools of ourselves."

Neuenhoff was undecided about a major until he'd taken a few business courses at Cazenovia. "I discovered I was really good at accounting. Everyone thinks it's such a difficult subject, but the math is pretty simple to me and I'm good at memorization of forms, which is really the basis of accounting. I seem to have a natural ability and the best part of accounting is that it deals with money, so I can get a job with any kind of company."

He will begin the fall 2013 semester as head residence advisor of Hubbard Hall. Neuenhoff's confidence about his future is as great as his belief that his experience as an RA will serve him well after his college education is completed. "When you serve as an RA, whether you like it or not, you are a role model," Nic says. "I have become more responsible, more able to persevere and more organized. The way I deal with people and situations in general has changed, as well as the way I think about those situations and people. I've become a different person - a person who is ready to take on the world and impact the people in it."

"As an RA ... I've become a different person ... ready to take on the world and impact the people in it."

Management - Accounting
West Monroe, NY
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