Village Living Fosters Student Success

Emerson Barker

Living on campus is more than just convenient for some students. The experience of living in residence halls or on-campus apartments is strengthened through the sense of community fostered by fellow residents. Sometimes the community becomes a second family for new students.

“Reason number one for freshman year: The Quad is a family,” said Emerson Barker, a four-year resident of the Honors Quad, in an Honors Village Award Ceremony speech. The speech titled, “Four Reasons to Live in the Quad All Four Years,” outlines why Barker advocates living on campus and why he continues to live on campus as a graduate student. Even though he missed the CORE program offered to freshmen to help them meet other students in the Quad, a fellow CORE member named Tina eventually introduced him to his Quad family cluster.

“Our cluster played board and card games together before getting ready for classes where Tina showed us around campus,” Barker continued in the speech. “Those may seem like little things, but when you’re in a new place that sense of family and that someone cares makes a big difference. Even after the first few weeks of school, our family cluster still got together on Sunday afternoons to eat in Clark Dining Hall. Now, three years later, two of our cluster members and I still get together every Thursday at Clark Dining Hall to grab a bite to eat and to catch up.”

Barker’s speech recommends that students live on campus not only because of the sense of family and community, but because of the people, including faculty and staff members, who are invested in helping students succeed. “We have so many wonderful Honors Seminar professors who do so much more than just teach classes,” Barker said.  “My freshman year I had ‘Madness, Monstrosity, and Marginality’ with Dr. May and a class on history, society, and technology with Dr. Nolan-Stinson. I enjoyed both these classes and I still see these professors on campus fairly frequently. When we’re walking past each other on campus both of them stop, remember my name, and will chat with me about how I’m doing in classes and where I am in my studies. That personal interaction with professors means a lot and you couldn’t get that nearly so easily without the Honors Program.”

Even if students do not live in the Quad or participate in the Honors Program, they can still reap the benefits of living on campus. The key, according to Barker, is to stay involved on campus. “NC State is a big school, bigger than some people’s hometowns, and it’s important to find a smaller community so you can feel at home,” he said in a recent interview. “Find a network and become in involved outside of academics. Try SGA, IRC, non-profits or even the Krispy Kreme Challenge.”

As an undergraduate student, Barker was very involved on campus. He served as the Vice President of the Quad Area Council as well as several roles in the Student Senate, including Vice President, President Pro-Tempore, Press Secretary and Senator. He was also the Committee on Appropriations Chair, Academics Committee Senator, CHASS Delegation Senator, Phi Beta Kappa member and Park Scholar as an undergraduate. As a graduate student, Barker continues to stay involved on campus. He is currently the Common Reading Committee Chair, Krispy Kreme Challenge Logistics Committee Co-Chair and an intern with the Wake County Department of Community Services, which covers Wake County libraries, parks, building inspections, planning, permitting, GIS mapping and veterans’ affairs.

Even though Barker was very involved as an undergraduate student, he recommends students try not to over-extend themselves when joining new communities at NC State. “You need good time management skills,” he said. “They are essential. As a freshman, there are a whole bunch of events and it’s easy to over commit. Pick a few and push for leadership positions. Be a student first and then set up a good balance of other activities.”

Since his graduation from NC State in 2012 with a B.A. in Political Science and a minor in Spanish, Barker continues to live in the Quad as he works to complete the Master of Public Administration (MPA) program at NCSU. He currently lives in Becton Hall with the same roommate as an undergraduate student. Barker would like to eventually become a city or county manager after graduation.

As he reflects on his experience living on campus in the Honors Quad, Barker said he would recommend that everyone live on campus. “It’s a great opportunity to get involved,” he said. “Campus is a great resource. I encourage students to consider the pros and cons and as long as they intend to take classes and be involved in campus activities, stay on campus where you are closer to the action.”