Venessa Whitelock has been working at the front desk for a year

Living in residence can be challenging for many first-year students. Fortunately, Algonquin College’s residence front desk staff helps make the experience better.

Two of the front desk staff making an impact are Venessa Whitelock and Kay Mushikiwase.

On a day to day basis, Whitelock and Mushikiwase go out of their way to spread a positive attitude and interact with students during their shifts.

“If I’m dealing with something personally, I don’t make that affect what I do for my day to day job. I always try to say, ‘have a good day at class,’ ‘keep your head up,’ and ‘you got this,’” Whitelock, 28, said.

Throughout the day, Whitelock and Mushikiwase deal with tasks such as re-magnetizing students’ cards to unlocking a student’s room for them if they happen to get locked out.

“It’s a very chill environment depending on the day,” Mushikiwase, 21, said.

Kay Mushikiwase has been working the front desk since September 2019

Although the job comes with its challenges and learning curves, a big part of working the front desk is the interaction with the students.

“Seeing students from all walks of life,” said Whitelock about what she enjoys most about her job. “You don’t just see the Canadian students. You see multicultural students, students from all over the world. It’s great to see that you have such a diverse community and a community of students that are always there for each other.”

For Kyle Fraser, a first-year animation student, his favourite aspect about the staff is their caring attitude towards him.

“That they know my name is kind of cool,” said the 20-year-old. “And they say hi to me. That’s nice.”

Whitelock and Mushikiwase also have certain aspects that brighten their day.

“Seeing the packages that the students buy,” Whitelock said. “We always get a lot of packages, and I find that it’s so rewarding when students come to front desk and they want to get their packages.”

“Seeing a student I’ve spoken with that might have had challenges the day before smiling the next day,” Mushikiwase said. “I think that brings so much joy to my heart knowing I was a part of that mood change.”

The job has also given Whitelock and Mushikiwase the chance to learn the virtue of patience.

“It’s understanding the students and not being so tough on them, because they’re looking for guidance, and you are the front of the line to give them that guidance,” Whitelock said.

In fact, the most rewarding parts of the job have lead Whitelock to choose to go back to school next year. While she has applied to Seneca College and gotten into the social service worker program there, Whitelock has also applied to Durham College and Algonquin, and is hopeful to get into Algonquin. Her dream? To open a group home for teenagers.