The new Graduate Resident Director at OU in Arezzo
by Kinlee Allen
I grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and found my love for traveling and learning other languages at an early age. I was fortunate enough to attend an international school where I started learning Spanish in kindergarten and when I was in 5th grade, I had my first study abroad experience. I spent three months in San Luis Potosi, Mexico and fell head over heels with not only the culture, but traveling in general. I knew from the moment I got back, I had to do whatever it took to study abroad again. I focused on gaining more knowledge of the Spanish culture (Latinx as well as Spaniard things). I learned colloquial words, history, and so much more. I even decided to get my Bachelor’s in it!
I attended my first two years of college at Pittsburg State University in Kansas. I studied Biology, Pre-Medicine as well as Spanish. I was in involved in the Alpha Gamma Delta- Epsilon Kappa Chapter. While at Pitt State, I got the opportunity to study abroad in Salamanca, Spain. While there, I focused on mastering the language and had the most wonderful experience. I wish I could have stayed longer! I think my favorite part about studying abroad would be not only meeting new people, but you automatically get out of your comfort zone. If you really want to submerse yourself, you must get out and meet new people daily. My program in Spain had students from all around the world and not only did I get to understand the Spanish culture, but others from around the world.
Upon returning to the states, I decided to transfer to the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond. I wanted to be closer to family and have more job opportunities for once I graduated. While at UCO, I worked in the housing office and learned about what it took to not only keep student housing running, but I noticed the impact all the housing staff had on students. So, my senior year, I decided to become a Resident Assistant. I worked with a team of 11 other students and one Hall Director. That year was one of the best years of my life if I am being honest. I fell in love with working with college students and being able to create a home away from home for them. This is what led me to getting my Master’s in Human Relations and working in Higher Education.
I began my Master’s at the University of Oklahoma during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and was blessed that I got a Graduate Assistantship with the Union Programming Board in the Student Life Office. During my year there, I grew tremendously as a professional and as a person. My focus was advising students who were leading committees and in charge of planning events. We planned events from Dancing with the Stars to CollegeCon to Escape Series. I learned exactly how to plan events and the dedication it takes to plan and execute them. It was in May of this year that my boss, Quy Nguyen, showed me the job posting of the OU in Arezzo GA position. I had talked about traveling and how I would love to work at a university overseas since I started working in Student Life and he knew this is something I would be interested in.
Long story short, I got the job haha and I am in love with it. My main job is interacting with students and I also advise the Student Activities Council. I focus on making connections with students and making sure they have everything they need. I am someone who bridges the gap between the students and the staff. I get to go on trips with students, eat dinners with them, have secret handshakes, and plan events for them to enjoy. The best part of the job is just learning about the students and forming connections with them. They also love me because my dog, Bucket, is in Arezzo with me and she is a hit with everyone! I can’t wait to see what the rest of my stay looks like and how I will grow.