Res Life’s O’Neill Oversees 26 RAs, Creates Dynamic Women of Wesleyan Group

Krystal-Gayle O’Neill says she enjoys the way Wesleyan students challenge her "on every front as it keeps me on my toes."

Krystal-Gayle O’Neill says she enjoys the way Wesleyan students challenge her “on every front as it keeps me on my toes.”

In this issue of News @ Wesleyan, we speak with Krystal-Gayle O’Neill, an area coordinator in Residential Life. In addition to her role with Res Life, O’Neil leads Dynamic Women at Wesleyan, a group that was created as a way for women or persons who identify as women to come together, talk about various topics, and gather under a common purpose

Q: Krystal-Gayle, when did you join the staff at the Office of Residential Life and where were you working prior to Wesleyan?

A: I joined the Res Life staff in the Summer of 2011. Prior to Wes, I worked in Res Life at The Juilliard School in New York and in campus recreation at Nova Southeastern University in Davie, Fla.

Q: As an area coordinator, what areas of student housing do you oversee? Also, where is your office?

A: I oversee the Foss 1-10 residence halls (West College, Nicolson, Hewitt and the program halls). My office is located on the garden level of the Hewitt Foss 8 residence hall.

Q: In what ways do you assist your student residents?

A: I oversee a student staff of 26 resident advisors, program hall managers, office assistants and a head resident. My primary responsibility is to supervise and support them to be advocates for their residents and to do events and programs that gear towards the out-of-the-classroom learning experience. I also serve as one of the campus’ judicial officers and coach students through judicial infractions through reflection and accountability.

Q: What do you like most about working at Wesleyan?

A: The best part about working at Wesleyan is the staff, whether it be administrative or faculty. I love the connections you can make with people outside of the mundane day-to-day functioning of the job, and the genuineness of people I have met so far. I also like the fact that the students challenge us on every front as it keeps me on my toes and forces me to be knowledgeable about current affairs and about how the university works.

Q: In 2014, you started up a group called Dynamic Women at Wesleyan. Tell us about this group.

A: Dynamic Women at Wesleyan is a group that was created as a way for women or persons who identify as women to gather under a common purpose and talk about various topics. Being a woman cuts across so many identities. I wanted to get out of my office more and meet new people from all walks of life who shared this identity. There is a whole purpose and mission statement on paper but what it boils down to is we are here at work for 6-8 hours per day—maybe more. Sometimes it’s just good to have time to step away from our desks to self-care with others and have some comradery and connection outside of our titles and job functions. Anyone is welcomed at our planned events and meetings.

Q: What are examples of some past and upcoming activities?

A: In the past year, we held Desserts and Dialogues, where we talk about various topics from work-life balance to what it means to be a caregiver. We also did a meditation workshop that was facilitated by a professor; a women and financial planning workshop presented by both TIAA CREF and Fidelity; summer lunch series; book club; and a women’s diversity panel that consisted of students, administrators and faculty. Upcoming summer events include the summer brunch series and summer workout partners so that we can keep active and healthy. I receive wonderful recommendations and event ideas from the dynamic women at this institution, and as they come I share them with the group. In the planning stages is a wine and art evening event, which may happen this summer or the fall term.

Q: How does one subscribe to your e-mails or become a member?

A: The Dynamic Women at Wesleyan listserve as of 2014 includes all female identified employees. Anyone hired as of January 2015 can e-mail me at koneill@wesleyan.edu to be included. Women who choose not to participate also have the option of unsubscribing from the list and are still welcomed at any of the events as they hear about them. Once a part of the listserve anyone can post things they feel will benefit the group and its initiatives.

Q: What did you major in? Where are you from?

A: As an undergraduate, my degree focused on business education and computer studies. As a graduate I have two masters degrees (MBA, M.Sc. in student affairs) and I am currently working on an MPhil through Graduate Liberal Studies with a social sciences concentration. I am from Portmore in the parish of St. Catherine, Jamaica.

Q: What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? What are your hobbies and interests?

A: I love to read fictional books, typically of the young adult genre as they help me escape my grown-up life. I am a woman of faith, so I attend the Zion First Baptist Church here in Middletown. I used to sing in my youth choir back home, and would love to get the courage to try that again if I can find the time to attend practice. I have varying interests that focus around social justice and inclusion; I work closely with my department to educate our students on issues of oppression and injustices and being global citizens. My exposure to these issues is one of the reasons that propelled me to create Dynamic Women at Wesleyan as women have been marginalized for such a long time. Though we have come a long way, we still have a ways to go.