For Jermaine Williams, being a resident assistant for IU Bloomington’s Groups Scholars Program is a bit surreal.
After all, it was only a few short years ago when the Indianapolis native was a wide-eyed incoming freshman in the program. Now, he’s a rising junior and instead of being one of the students soliciting advice from his upperclassmen peers, he’s the one dispensing it.
“It’s kind of hard not to reflect on my Groups year because when they come in, it’s like, ‘Wow, that was us just two years ago,’” recounts Williams, an informatics major who is also minoring in telecommunications and human-centered computing. “They’re pretty much open books. They realize that they’re going to be here for a while—this whole summer—so they’ve already confided in us on another level. Some of them may be going through things at home, some people may be going through personal issues here. So, using my experience and some stuff that I’ve been through, I try to help them out the best way that I can.
“My year, Groups 2015, our resident assistants were the example of what a role model should be. They were there for us, no matter what. They helped us out a lot, so seeing the way they interacted with us, I wanted to help somebody else the way they helped us. Having that example and role model to look up to, it kind of drives you and pushes you to do more.”
Groups, an Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Multicultural Affairs (OVPDEMA) program, is a four-year, full-tuition scholarship program for Indiana residents at IU Bloomington. Groups Scholars spend seven weeks on campus in the summer prior to their freshman year as part of its Summer Experience Program.
Even before his participation in Groups, Williams was familiar with the IU Bloomington campus through his participation in the Balfour Scholars Program in the summer before his senior year at Lawrence Central High School.
“Balfour was the reason why I came to IU. Balfour gave us a different look when it came to college. Yeah, we were in high school and talked about how we wanted to go to college, but it actually gave us the experience for a whole week,” recalled Williams, who is now a mentor and counselor for Balfour. “They gave us so many resources and I met so many people. From then on, I knew IU was the place where I wanted to go.”