Maggie Platt attended AU as an undergraduate student and completed her bachelor’s in 2007. Since then, she has worked in youth and camp ministry before returning to AU as a resident director in 2013. She served as RD of Rice and Martin Halls and is now the director of residence life and student conduct. Platt earned her Master of Science in Management and Leadership in 2016.
Tell me a little bit about how you initially came to AU.
I was planning on going to Indiana University. My mom told me I couldn’t just pick a college based off of the basketball team that I liked, and she said I had to visit at least one more school. AU was the first alphabetically in the binder of college brochures that I received, so I said, “Okay, I’ll visit.”
I knew it was the place for me the second I walked onto campus. It was the fall. It was beautiful. I loved the people, and so I didn’t even apply to IU. I only applied to AU.
My experience as an undergrad was phenomenal, and I met lifelong friends and was changed by professors and chapels and experiences as a student leader. I graduated in 2007, went out into the world and did youth ministry and camp ministry and came back to AU in 2013 as a resident director.
It was actually Becca Palmer who told me about the RD position and encouraged me to apply. I was the RD of Rice Hall for two years and Martin Hall for three years before taking my new role.
What was it about this place that really captured your heart?
It really was the instant connection with other people. I remember the names of my admissions counselor and the director of admissions even 16 years later. I remember walking in the Valley with the leaves falling off the trees, and it was just magical. I had only been a Christian for a few months when I came on my AU visit. I was just starting to dig into a youth group and my faith and what that looked like. To walk onto a campus that was just so open to prayer and worship and what they believed, I thought about what my life would probably look like at IU, and I thought about the awesome opportunity it would be to go to AU and start fresh.
How did AU shape your faith?
My senior year in high school at my youth group was my foundation for living a life of faith. I grew up in church, but I really became a follower that year. Coming to AU as such a fresh believer and follower, my entire faith life was encouraged to stretch and grow.
My sophomore year I was a discipleship coordinator, and I was completely unprepared for that role. I had been a Christian for way less time than these girls in my hall, but I was given this opportunity to start mentoring. The next year I was the chaplain of a social club.
I was on fire for God, but I look back and recognize that I was completely unprepared for these positions, except that God equipped me to do that work. My time at AU prepared me for youth ministry and camp ministry after college. Being surrounded by the most amazing people, I kind of figured out who I was. I had a lot of struggles in college trying to figure out who I was, what I wanted to do. I think I changed majors five times. It wasn’t all rosy and wonderful, but I look back and think that it was because of the people and the support.
You mentioned this community. Can you pinpoint what that really means to you?
One of the most special things for me was the class that moved from Rice Hall to Martin Hall with me. They stayed almost completely the same, and I had almost the exact same residents two years in a row.
In the fall of 2015 when that happened, I was diagnosed with cancer. To have that group of students who already knew me and were so supportive was such a special thing that God orchestrated. We got to go through that year together as I was going through surgeries and treatment. That was really special.
A lot of athletic teams and the Boosters and my residents really rallied around me in that time. It was a really hard year, but very special. I couldn’t believe the support from the faculty and staff community as well. They had my back every which way.
I made it through that year as well as I did because of the people around me. I can’t say enough how wonderful that was.
The same thing kind of happened last year. As I thought my life was kind of calming down, my mom passed away last November. I once again got to see the incredible support of the AU community. I feel so rallied around in this place.
I was gone for six years, and I never expected to be back. This wasn’t something on my radar at all. It was just the hand of God bringing me somewhere that I needed to be personally for the tragedies that were coming in my life. God knew the type of community I needed to be living in at that time, but also a place where my gifts would be utilized so much more than in the other positions that I had been holding. At the time, I was working in insurance. I liked my job. I worked with wonderful people, but I wasn’t using my gifts.
Being a mentor to so many different people is like the greatest privilege in my life. It became challenging the more years I did it. I made connections with so many people. By the time I was here for four years, I had four different classes of women that I wanted to give my time to and who were asking for my time, and that became very challenging. I had to start thinking through boundaries and how to love people well with a finite amount of time.
How did you come into this new role?
For the last two years, Jason Stephens was in this role, and he was an incredible mentor and one of the best bosses I have ever worked for. He taught me so much about the role and how to be a great advocate for students and the department. I did not expect him to be leaving at all, but he was presented with the most incredible opportunity at his alma mater. He let us know he wasn’t coming back the next year, and Dr. Confer called me in for a meeting to discuss the possibilities, and by the end of that week, the job had been offered to me. It was a whirlwind, but I just knew in my heart it was the right thing and was able to accept right away.
What does your job really entail?
To sum it up, it’s really a community caretaker position. I am kind of the upper-level looking over the whole resident life community and pouring into the resident directors so that they feel empowered to create beautiful communities in each of their individual buildings.
One of my top Strengthsfinder strengths is individualization, and so it’s very difficult for me to ever put anyone into a mold. And so I love that each of our resident directors are so different and are making different communities in their buildings, and I highly encourage them in that.
How has this new position benefitted you so far?
People would be really surprised to find out that I am actually an introvert. No one expects it from me. I need a lot of time to retreat and refresh and rejuvenate. This role came at the absolute right time.
I was not feeling ready to be done being an RD yet, but now being in a different role, I can look back and see how burned out I was becoming.
Once again, God intervened and changed my path just in time. Now I get to pour into the RD team and give my all during the day in conduct meetings and trying to love people well even in that process, and then I get to come home and refresh and prepare for the next day. It’s actually a dream.
What is your vision within this position?
Some people think I am crazy for being excited about the conduct side of my job, but I actually am. There are difficult conversations that are so worth it. My vision goes right along with the university’s vision. Real life transformed is all over the conduct process, so while that vision statement was not made for conduct, it is just the best thing ever.
We get to sit with a student who has made a mistake, talk about their real life, where they have come from, and then we get to walk through the process in helping them transform. Obviously, they have to engage in that process, and they have to put energy in it as well. By designing a growth contract and mentoring them, our hope is that they would be transformed from the inside out through that process and that they would learn from it and that the whole situation would be redeemed and restored. How much more real life transformed can you get? What a privilege for me to get to walk through people’s real life with them.