New leader hopes to up RHA visibility
Genomics and molecular genetics junior Zachary DeRade speaks to Residence Halls Association, or RHA, members before the election Feb. 20, at Shaw Hall. DeRade was elected to be the president of the 44th session for RHA. Katie Stiefel/The State News
A week ago, current Residence Halls Association, or RHA, Communications Coordinator Zachary DeRade was nothing but smiles as he fought off many peers’ congratulations to conduct his first interview after being elected as the RHA 44th session president.
“I wasn’t sure how to respond, but like I’ve said in my speech, for two years I’ve really contemplated this position and what it would mean to fill it,” DeRade said. “So now I think it’s kind of time to let it soak in (and) fully understand it.”
At last Wednesday’s RHA meeting, DeRade was elected by the general assembly to take over as the next president of the organization. DeRade officially will take over at the RHA meeting April 10, with the 44th session officially beginning once the meeting ends, he said.
Getting RHA’s name out to students is something DeRade hopes to improve as president of the group. Getting RHA swag into the dorms, getting involved with summer Academic Orientation Programs, having a stronger presence at Sparticipation and holding MSU football tailgates are some of the changes students might see next year, DeRade said.
“My ultimate goal is very much our image, very much our delivery of our services and really people seeing that brand they recognize and proudly support,” DeRade said. “I want people to see RHA doing things and get excited for what we’re going to do and be really interested in what we have to bring to them.”
Environmental biology and zoology freshman Katherine Grantham, who lives in Bailey Hall, likes the idea of adding some engaging events for MSU students to take part in.
“I think it would be good for freshmen to get involved in (RHA tailgates) to meet new people, and I think it’s nice to engage with people on campus,” Grantham said.
DeRade, a genomics and molecular genetics junior, has been associated with RHA ever since he stepped foot on campus in fall 2010.
He has held positions as the Spectrum representative, committee on internal affairs chair, food representative, director of health and safety and his current role as communications coordinator.
With a lengthy résumé with RHA, current RHA President Kelcey Gapske is confident in DeRade taking over as president.
“I think he will do a great job, (and) a lot of things he touched on in his speech are very important to talk about — working on the brand, working on internal relations as well as strengthening our services and making sure we are reaching out to freshmen,” Gapske said.
DeRade said he has been thinking about this position for the past two years and now that he finally has the reins, he is excited for the upcoming year.
“It’s very much going to be something that I hope will humble me even more,” he said. “I definitely think it’ll help me grow a lot, but I’m hoping through that growth, I’ll be able to help the organization grow even more.”