“Crazy, huh?” He leaned back in his office chair, grinning. “I’m not even supposed to be here.”
In high school, Kipp Van Dyke’s guidance counselor told him he wouldn’t be able to handle college. Now, a bachelor’s degree in family services and a masters in counseling later, Van Dyke is the residence life coordinator for Goodnow Hall at K-State University.
“My first semester in college I worked hard, but I knew I wasn’t supposed to make it,” Van Dyke said.
His perspective changed when he was hired as a resident assistant at Iowa State University under Hall Director Jorg Vianden.
“My boss really believed in me,” Van Dyke said. “I’m a product of someone who showed care for me and genuine concern. That’s always kind of driven me.”
As the one ultimately responsible for more than 600 students currently living in Goodnow, Van Dyke demonstrates the same genuine concern that made such a difference in his life.
“If you have any questions, any issues going on, he’s the one to talk to,” said Lleran Johnson, senior in marketing and resident assistant in Goodnow. “You know you can depend on him for anything.”
Van Dyke motioned to the pictures that cover his office walls, his enthusiasm evident, as he talked about former students and staff he watched grow up.
“I had a group of guys my first year here who were ‘party guys,'” Van Dyke explained. “It was a group that not many people would connect with, and I was able to connect with them.”
He said they have maintained their relationship and several of these men come to visit him and his wife, Breanna, and their six-month-old daughter, Olivia.
“If it was ten years down the line and you think he’s totally forgotten about you,” Johnson said, “he will still know who you are.”
Van Dyke’s secret is simple:
“You have to want to help people,” he said and quoting his professor in graduate school, “We can give you manuals after manuals to tell you how to do the job, but I can’t teach you how to care.”
He admitted there are some aspects that make his job caring for college students difficult at times.
“I don’t like rude people,” Van Dyke said, adding disrespect and vandalism to the list. “I don’t like when other people bring people down,” he said. “When other people’s poor choices affect others.”
Van Dyke is not only having an impact on his residents, he’s also influencing the students who work under him.
“He’s really good at training his staff,” said Alex Carson, sixth-year senior in mechanical engineering and a community assistant and five-year resident of Goodnow.
“He always brings something new to the table each year and has the mindset of what can he do to improve Goodnow,” he said.
Van Dyke said residence life coordinator was the perfect first job for him and he still enjoys it, but he is also looking toward other options. He co-authored a book, “The Voice of College: the Freshmen Experience” (thevoiceofcollege.com), designed to help high school seniors, college freshmen and their families navigate the complexities of college. Van Dyke also said he’s interested in moving into a university management position, especially in the area of freshmen orientation.
If all else fails, he can always fall back on the magic tricks that helped him pay for his wife’s engagement ring.
“I love sleight of hand,” Van Dyke said, adding that he uses it as a conversation starter with students.
For now, Van Dyke is focused on making an impact on the students under his care.
“I feel extremely blessed to have had this opportunity,” he said. “Any given day, I can sit at my desk and talk to students. That’s my job.”