Photo courtesy of Michaela Bartram

The president of Tech’s Resident Hall Association (RHA), Michaela Bartram is a graduating fourth-year BCHM. Her involvement in RHA started her very first semester at Tech when she represented her dorm on the Hall council. From there, she has served as an executive board member, vice president and now as president.

Her love for RHA shines not only from her extensive involvement but also as she visibly glows when she asked about her role.  The root of her passion and dedication for RHA stems from her personal experience growing up.

“I am at Georgia Tech on a full needs-based scholarship,” Bartram said. “Before coming to college, I moved at least fourteen different times. I grew up in seven different states, so I never really had a home. I’ve been homeless at multiple points in my life, and the scholarship I am on allows me to live in Georgia Tech Housing
for free.”

These experiences that she had while growing up transformed into a desire to build a community for herself and others.

“I want to give back. Georgia Tech is my home, the first home I have had,” Bartram said. “But even if that wasn’t my story, which I am sure isn’t the reason most people are involved in RHA, RHA has so much to offer the community.”

Her goals as president of RHA reflect her personal desires for community development.

“RHA is what you make of it,” Bartram said. “Apathy is a constant challenge for [us] because all of our hall council officers are volunteers. And no matter what, we are grateful for their time. But we are constantly trying to inspire and encourage our volunteers to see the all the ways that they can impact their community.

“This year, we have been focusing on community development and who we are as a community. We have over 8500 residents in RHA who are from different races, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, disability status and socioeconomic status. We’re really pushing diversity and inclusivity. We represent so many different people, so we need to include everyone. We need to celebrate that and have types of events that serve our residents in addition to our social events.”

In order to better serve the community, RHA has held events like GT Unite and Mental Health Awareness Week. The reaction they have received from the students who participated has confirmed that they are moving in the right direction towards inclusivity.

Even with all of her success, Bartram still struggles with imposter syndrome.

“When I first started as president, I really struggled with feeling like a imposter. It has gotten a little better. I always thought the people at the top really knew what was going on, but really no one knows what is going on,” Bartram said.  “A lot of my job is planning and making sure everyone is doing their job. But the biggest [challenge] is [asking myself] ‘Do I belong here? What am I doing?’ and realizing no one knows what they are doing. But this difficulty really motivated me to plan out what am doing. And then constantly asking people around me: ‘Have I forgotten anything?’”

Bartram tries not to focus on herself. She said, “Servant leadership is the underlying goal of the RHA Executive board. The official motto of RHA is ‘making halls into homes,’ but really we are just trying to make living at Georgia Tech more fun for everyone, because this is a really
stressful place.”