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RD Recognized for Making Nelson Feel like Home

RD Recognized for Making Nelson Feel like Home

Kendall Engelke Davis was given an award for making Nelson feel like home for RAs and first-year students.

“Fun fact—,” Resident Director (RD) Kendall Engelke Davis ’07, GS’11 says, “when living on campus, I've only ever lived in a freshman residence hall.” There’s a reason for that: She loves the students. From her experience as a resident assistant (RA) during her undergraduate time at Bethel to her role as RD, Engelke Davis says that the only thing she loves more about first-year students is first-year resident assistants. “I've often said that I became an RD because I love working with first-year students,” Engelke Davis explains, “but I stay an RD because it's such an honor to work with RAs.”

Engelke Davis’s 10-year career as an RD in Nelson Hall has given her an opportunity to repeatedly invest in students and serve as an overall character-builder. For this effort, she was awarded the Spring 2018 Core Value Mark of Distinction. This award is given to Bethel employees who embody Bethel’s core values, impact their department’s goals, fruitfully serve the Bethel community, and further Bethel’s mission and vision.

“During her 10 years as an RD, Kendall has worked directly with over 65 student leaders,” says Assistant Dean of Residence Life Jenn Hillier. “She guides resident assistants as they learn to lead with compassion, integrity, and excellence.” The way she mentors the students she works with sets her apart as a character-builder in the Bethel community, according to Hillier. Engelke Davis adds, “Often times RAs are undergoing their own significant growth in their personal lives as they sort out more of their own story in a safe community.” She says, “It's an honor for me to mentor them and help them develop.”

Although Nelson is the only one of four freshman dorms not located on “The Hill,” Engelke Davis intentionally strives to cultivate a unique sense of community for first-year students. “Nelson is a place to be. It’s not the ‘other’ freshman area,” says Associate Dean of Residence Life Jim Benjamin. “Once students are there, Kendall really makes them feel like this is my home, or this is my place.”

Since Engelke Davis’ family lives in Nelson along with the first-year students and RAs, she’s fully immersed in their lives. When referring to Engelke Davis’ overall role in Residence Life, Hillier says, “Kendall is always helping us consider updates to our practices and processes, but at the end of the day, student growth is at the center. Our work is to help welcome new students and to help them see Nelson and Bethel as home.”

Each member of the Residence Life staff intends to follow the vision: “Residence Life is a home where students grow and thrive in connection with God and others,” according to Benjamin. “I really feel that Kendall works out of that. For all of our staff, we want the places where students live to feel like there are aspects of home.” Benjamin continues to explain the language shift that occurs around Christmas break for many freshmen. “They’ll be home for Christmas visiting their parents, which is their permanent home, but then they say I’m ready to go back home to Bethel. When that language changes, that means they’ve felt comfortable, that this is a place where they’re known, and that’s really one of the things that we’re doing.”

Engelke Davis’s presence in the dorm greatly encourages not only students to see Nelson as home, but for her own family to do so as well. “Students spend a lot of time in our home (our apartment in Nelson); they hang out with my kids and my husband,” Engelke Davis says. “These are relationships I will treasure forever.  They teach me and help me grow in as much the same way I do for them.” offers multifaceted support during times of stress and struggle.

When reflecting on her positions in Resident Life, Engelke Davis says, “God used my own experience as an RA at Bethel to understand and love others more by learning and hearing their stories. This same passion is what drives me in my work as a resident director. I meet students in some of the hardest challenges of their lives—and yet—it's in the hard where we get to do the really beautiful work of growing and seeing God move.”

Engelke Davis was one of four employees awarded the Core Value Mark of Distinction in May at an Executive Leadership Team meeting. Each recipient received a $250 check and a custom-made Bethel fleece jacket for their representations of a Bethel core value.

Learn more about Bethel’s Residence Life Staff and Vision

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