Story by Sarah Sabatke
After three years at MU, junior Tucker Murphy says this has been his best year of college so far. Sure, his classes may be more demanding and the to-do lists may be getting longer, but this year he also gets to serve as a resident advisor with the MU Department of Residential Life.
Murphy got involved with the department as a freshman, joining his hall’s government. As a Residence Halls Association representative, he assisted with events and budget decisions. His older brother and only sibling, Mason, was already a student at MU and had been an RA for three years. Murphy set his sights on filling a similar position from the start.
“I already knew I wanted to be an RA someday,” he said.
Admittedly, Murphy had a tough time settling into campus during his freshman year. While being involved helped, he wanted to continue the mentorship activities he had been involved in during high school and help other students acclimate to college life.
“I knew the RA that I needed, and I like that I can be the RA that I needed to them,” he says, speaking about the residents of his hall. “Honestly, I just genuinely like helping them.”
Murphy also knew he wanted to return to campus after residing in off-campus housing during his sophomore year. Although he had been involved while living off campus, he said he hadn’t found his niche yet.
“I was super anxious the past two years. I really had a hard time. I called my parents every day,” Murphy said. This year, though, has been different.
“I have more on my plate,” he said, “but I’m able to do it just because I’m so thrilled to be an RA. It’s given me this weird confidence that’s kind of helped me in every other area of school.”
He has translated his skills for helping others to other campus organizations, including Mizzou Alternative Breaks (MAB). His older brother, Mason, had previously been an MAB site leader, and Murphy remembers how much fun Mason had had on his trip.
Murphy participated on an MAB weekend trip to Springfield, Missouri, in the fall of 2017, focusing on the service areas of homelessness and poverty.
“We worked at the YMCA. It was around Halloween, so they did Halloween events at the YMCA for kids,” Murphy said. The students also helped paint tiny homes for veterans that were being built in the area.
This fall, he acted as a site leader for the same trip.
“You don’t think you can do it, but then you do it,” Murphy said. “You don’t really know how, but on the other side, you’re kind of like, ‘Wow, I did all this!’ Even though we haven’t gone on the trip yet, I already kind of feel that way.”
Murphy also works with Relevant Youth, a student-run creative agency at the university.
Mentorship has played an undeniable role in Murphy’s experience at MU. He credits his mother, Michelle, and several Missouri School of Journalism faculty and staff members, including Elizabeth Brixey, Dr. Cynthia Frisby and Kara Lehenbauer.
“They’re willing to help me on a personal level,” he said. “They care about me, not just whatever job I need to do.”
Kenny Bollwerk, Murphy’s residence hall coordinator in Dogwood Hall, has also encouraged Murphy in his Residential Life role and his academic endeavors.
“I know that if I need to talk through anything, I can go to Kenny,” Murphy said.
“I learn by asking a lot of questions, so having people that are empathetic and willing to help me makes a huge difference.”
After graduation, Murphy thinks he’d like to head to Kansas City, Missouri. Regardless of what he ends up doing, he says he’s learned a lot so far.
Although he claims to be someone who doesn’t have a lot of self-confidence, he says he’s learned to believe in himself.
“I think if high school me or freshman year of college me were to see me now, I hope he would be proud,” Murphy said.
“Not that I’ve made it or done something miraculous, but I think I’ve come a long way.”
Murphy, from Independence, Missouri, will graduate in May 2021 with a degree in strategic communication, specializing in art direction.