The Activities and Resources Center: A Cornerstone of KCAD
In this installment of Prototype, we profile the fantastic students who help the Activities and Resources Center support the KCAD community
Behind every great community, there’s something holding it all together. Within the teeming creative ecosystem that is the KCAD student body, that something is the Activities and Resources Center (better known as the ARC), located on the ground floor of the 17 Fountain Building.
The front desk of the ARC, where you can go to get help with any problem at any time.
“This idea behind the ARC is supporting students from the time they’re a prospect to the time that they graduate and beyond,” says Director of Student Engagement Nicole DeKraker, who helps oversee the facility along with Director of Counseling and Disability Services Darcy Storms and Professor Patty Constantine, who coordinates tutoring services.
The long list of services that the ARC provides, which includes internship assistance, career and professional development, Rapid bus passes, on-campus events, counseling, tutoring, writing assistance, quiet testing areas, disability services, orientation, study abroad, special travel opportunities, career days, student organizations, critical transitions classes, and even a meditation room, begs the question: is there anything the ARC can’t do?
A student enjoys the tranquility of the ARC's meditation room
If there is, the team of superhuman student employees who help the ARC run smoothly haven’t encountered it yet. Comprehensive perseverance, they say, is a hallmark of their work.
“No matter how small or how big, we will tackle the problem,” says Jennie Reid, a junior dual major in Photography and Fashion Studies who joined the ARC as a freshman. “If it’s something that we can’t help directly with, we will find the resource, whether we have to do an hour of research on the computer or if we have to track down a certain person to get an answer.”
Need a new student ID? Head to the ARC, where they can print you a new one on the spot
Even in a close-knit community like KCAD, there are times when students can feel disconnected, stressed, or lost, especially when they first arrive on campus. The beauty of the ARC is that it creates a situation in which students are supporting each other. “We try our hardest every day to make sure that whenever someone walks in that door, we make them feel welcome and treat them how they would want to be treated,” says James Laubach, a sophomore Graphic Design major who just finished his first semester working in the ARC. “Students come first. That’s just how we operate here.”
Students connect with one another in the ARC's Writing Center
That’s quite a pledge, especially considering that Laubach, Reid, and many of the ARC’s other employees are students themselves, dealing with the pressures of their own classwork, projects, extra-curricular activities, and social lives. Reid, for instance, is the President of the KCAD Bodies of Art Fashion Alliance, and she also designs clothing on outside commission. Laubach is a transfer student who’s still working on getting settled in a new environment.
But once inside the ARC, they leave all of that behind to focus on supporting their fellow students. “We’re all alike in that we’re mostly introverts,” Reid says of KCAD students. “But if we can all come together with that one link of art and design, it helps build community.”
ARC employees (from left to right) James Laubach, Jennie Reid, Katie Wright, and Jericho Castillo. Wright and Castillo have graduated, but you can find Laubach and Reid working hard to help the ARC help students.
The ARC’s staff is itself a close-knit group, which is a big part of why they’re able to extend that sense of connection to the rest of the student body. “We’re like a family here,” Reid says. “We all have each other’s backs.” Laubach says that’s something he hasn’t experienced in the workplace before. “It’s been nice that I can say that my co-workers are my friends.”
For Jericho Castillo and Katie Wright, two ARC student employees who both graduated in December, saying goodbye was tough. But they’ll always remember it as a place where their hard work and dedication made a very personal impact each and every day. Wright recalls one instance where she helped a girl find a job and a place to live during the first day of orientation. The real reward, she says, is “getting to see the face of the person who’s going to benefit from your effort."
If you're searching for a quiet place to take or make up a test, look no further than the ARC
“We want students to come in and see the ARC as a place to receive assistance and ask questions” says Director of Counseling and Disability Services Darcy Storms. Castillo, who worked in the ARC on behalf of the Counseling and Disability office, relished the opportunities the ARC gave him to get involved with projects that benefitted the community as a whole. “It makes me feel like my work is worth more and that what I’m doing has a purpose because someone’s going to use it and appreciate it,” he says.
Castillo worked on a project to promote depression awareness and a campaign for self-care during finals week. “As a result of the design work Jericho created, several students were able to reach out for help and receive services through the counseling office," Storms says. "His work also started promoting a sense of community and awareness of some of the hardships college students can face."
The work of Castillo, Wright, Laubach, Reid, and all those who came before them, has built an extraordinary culture where students support one another in a concentrated effort to advance collectively. That kind of asset, DeKraker says, is priceless.
“Our student employees are always looking to take the initiative, and they do so with grace, kindness, and a smile. I can’t say enough about what they’re capable of doing.”