By Tessa Kielbasa
Allison Wetterauw is a Resident Hall Director (RHD) at Sacred Heart University for two off-campus dorms, Pioneer Gardens and Oakwood Apartments.
She fell in love with residential life during her time at the Catholic University of America in Washington D.C.
Not wanting to leave that part of her life behind, she decided to become an RHD for Sacred Heart.
Wetterauw was a Resident Success Assistant (RSA) during her college years while pursuing her undergraduate degree in media studies and minor in philosophy.
“I loved being an RA. I loved that connection, helping someone and putting on programs,” said Wetterauw.
As a Zumba instructor, she put on classes for her residents and continued to build that connection.
Sacred Heart is close to her hometown of Darien, Conn. After graduation, she found the RHD position that would allow her to continue her love for residential life as she pursued her masters in communication through the university.
“I wouldn’t say it is an easy job, but it is very rewarding because at the end of the day you get to help students,” said Wetterauw.
When she first started her education in media and communication, her dream was to make documentaries. Her capstone project is a documentary on Irish language in America.
“There are a lot of people in America learning it even though no one knows or ever hears of it. There are actually three types of Gaelic,” said Wetterauw.
Another major part of Wetterauw’s life is her Irish culture. She has been step dancing since she was little and has spent countless hours practicing her steps.
“My parents would drive me an hour and a half to dance class. It would be a six or seven hour class depending on my dance teacher’s mood,” said Wetterauw.
She danced for a competitive Irish step school all throughout middle and high school, and even competed in Ireland, as well as worldwide in step competitions.
Today she continues her love for dancing by teaching an Irish step dance class at Sacred Heart.
The group on campus is called the Claddagh Dancers. They compete with traditional steps as well as performing to modern music.
Wetterauw said the group got their name after the
Claddagh ring, which features two hands holding a heart, and is popular in Irish culture. Naming the group after the ring connects Irish culture to Sacred Heart through the image of the heart.
Recently, she was able to demonstrate her dancing for the student body at Dancing with Heart. Her partner and herself came in second place.
She has also embraced her Irish culture by representing her community in heritage competitions.
Wetterauw was the 2014 Washington D.C Rose, which gave her the opportunity to go to Ireland and represent the Irish community in D.C.
Most recently she was elected the 2017 Cherry Blossom Princess of Connecticut. This competition is an ambassadorship, as well as a leadership program for women and promotes professional development.
“I’m not a pageant queen. I never use the P word. It’s not a beauty pageant,” said Wetterauw.
The competition symbolizes how Japan gave cherry blossoms to the United States and in return gave Japan dogwoods. The event demonstrates the friendship between the two countries.
There is a Cherry Blossom Princess for each state and United States territory. The National Conference of State Societies (NCSS) puts on the competition.
According to the NCSS website, the program has been helping women, ages 19 to 24, since 1948. The Cherry Blossom Princess becomes queen randomly by a wheel. The winner also known as the queen then gets to travel to Japan.
“I don’t think I’ll win, but I am excited,” said Wetterauw.