Wales Representative Mary K-Kenyon
Senior Residence Manager
What do you enjoy most about working in student accommodation?
I take pride in supporting young people on their transition from home life into university life. We play a major role in the transition and teaching of our students and we help provide them with skills they need to be able to live independently and to socialise and mix with others and hopefully make friends for life. The fact that every day is different is both exciting and daunting, however it always keeps us on our toes and encourages us to continually adapt and grow with new cohorts of students every year. Making a difference to some of the most vulnerable people within our community is always the most rewarding part of my job.
Can you provide details about a specific student accommodation project that you’ve been involved in, that you’re really proud of?
Post pandemic at Aberystwyth university we have been working tirelessly to bring back a sense of community within our halls of residences. We have launched a fantastic range of events that are a promotion of community, wellbeing, creativeness, getting outdoors and building friendships. These events have been well received with over 2,000 attendees at our events over the last 12 months. We have been working proactively with other departments in the University, to provide movie nights at our arts centre cinema, coffee mornings at our hospitality outlets, sports day with our sports centre, range of movie nights/ open mic nights in Residential social spaces with food supplied by internal take away services. This contributed to us winning Halls & Student accommodation award at whatuni 2022 and student life award in 2023.
What does ASRA mean to you?
ASRA is a fantastic network to meet like minded professionals and it gives us a space to share ideas, best practice, and support through the good and the bad. ASRA offers great training and learning opportunities through conference and gives us an opportunity to network either via email, at the regional meetings and conference, this makes a massive difference and gives you the sense that you are not alone.
What is your best ASRA memory?
My favourite ASRA memory has to be the most recent conference in Belfast. It was my second ASRA conference and everything about it was great. I loved being apart of the stress busters’ group, where we made panels for a quilted blanket that was auctioned off at our ASRA gala dinner – I may have been sitting on the same table as the winning bid (we may have influenced him to increase his bid!!). It was great to be part of such a fantastic opportunity to support a local charity to Belfast and leave our ASRA footprint.
Thoughts on the future
The future of student accommodation is definitely going to a be a challenging one, with the cost-of-living crisis, housing crisis and the continuous rise in mental health concerns and complex case work. As a sector we have an up-hill battle to continue to be the voices of our students and to ensure that accommodation (home for lots of our students) is at the top of everyone’s priority list. This includes helping to build communities, supporting with wellbeing and building resilience within our communities, keeping the costs of our accommodation down whilst also investing to ensure that the spaces our students are living in, enhance their experience and is a good space to be able to academically achieve.
- Read Next
- Northern Representative Katy Lemmon Welcome your new ASRA Regional Reps! Membership Spotlight: Rebecca O’Hare Paul's Blog - My Conference Experience
- Conference 2024: Introducing our Keynote Speakers Getting to Conference: Aberdeen Conference 2024: Justification Letter Take a closer look at P&J Live! P&J Live: Our Conference 2024 Venue