Name: Antonio Willis-Berry ’13
Title: Director of Residence Life
Organization Name: Merrimack College
1. In one sentence, what does your job entail?
I am responsible for all students living on campus and ensuring they are having a safe, engaging, supportive, and caring experience.
2. What planned and unplanned events connected you to your industry and your first employer after Holy Cross? How did you learn/decide it was a good fit for you?
When I was a student at Holy Cross, I discovered somewhere between the summer of my sophomore and the summer of my junior year that I wanted to work in Student Affairs. I had an opportunity to go to a few different conferences and kept meeting and networking with professionals (both working at Holy Cross and within the New England region). An unplanned event happened at the conclusion of my sophomore year, when I wasn’t selected to be a returning RA and I thought my career was over. I was quite angry, but it was a great learning moment for me and one that I’m thankful that I had. I needed to refocus my energy more on school (because I wouldn’t be where I am today if I had flunked out) and the other opportunities that I cared more about. The care the ResLife and Student Affairs Division showed me during this learning moment helped me to decide that this career path would be a great fit for me. They cared about me and I knew that’s what I wanted to do and who I wanted to be for others. My career has not been rainbows and sunshines, but I always come back to that moment of why I started doing this in the first place and that makes the headaches that much easier to navigate.
3. What were you involved in when you were on campus?
Too many things! I was an RA, an OL, Minister of Music for the Protestant Community, in the MAGIS program, a Student Co-Chair of NJSLC, multiple roles in SGA, multiple roles in BSU, Music Director of an A Capella group, a Hogan Student Manager, Co-Chair of WCHC Sports, a dedicated member of CAB, member of the Jazz Ensemble, and I’m sure there was more.
4. What was your major and how did it affect your career decisions?
Music and it didn’t really affect my career decision. However, they taught me the value of individuality and exposed me to different ways of creating and supporting a team. I learned a great deal about leadership in my conducting course with Prof. Culver and how to improv and be adaptable from my course on Jazz with Prof. Monaghan.
5. What are one or two skills that you developed at Holy Cross that you use in your work?
I do a lot of reflecting and thinking about the things I am grateful for. I went on the Spiritual Exercises as a student and that really taught me the value of stopping, listening, and being in the moment. I remind myself to do this daily and it really helps to recenter me.
6. What advice do you have for students on campus today?
Find the communities that bring you joy and add value to your life. For me, it was my a cappella group. I did not tell them enough how impactful they were to my experience as a student and I regret that. I miss them daily and while we are in different parts of the world during different things, I know that we are still connected because of our love of music. So find your place and if you don’t have one, then create it. I was one of the founding members of our group and it had a tremendous impact on me. Holy Cross has the capacity to have a tremendous impact on you and for you to impact it, if you’re willing to listen, push back, and ask the tough questions.