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Housing Director finds new home at the Beach

New hire Corry Colonna adjusts to the West Coast and welcomes new experiences

Corry Colonna in his office where he works as the Executive Director of Housing and Residential Life for the students at CSULB 11/28.

Corry Colonna in his office where he works as the Executive Director of Housing and Residential Life for the students at CSULB 11/28.

Corry Colonna in his office where he works as the Executive Director of Housing and Residential Life for the students at CSULB 11/28.

Lola Olvera, Contributing Writer

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If new and returning Cal State Long Beach dormers had to learn to adjust to a new home this semester, they weren’t alone. Corry Colonna had a similar experience, moving to the West Coast and into a new apartment to gear up for his new position as Executive Director of Housing and Residential Life.

When Colonna first visited the university in April, he fell in love with the campus and its community. After he was offered the job on campus, he accepted immediately. Now, he oversees major events such as move-in day and works with other departments to make residential life as fulfilling and comfortable as possible for students.

The decision to take a job across the country was fueled by Colonna’s need to grow professionally and personally. He is often motivated by the desire to learn and experience new things, calling himself intrinsically motivated.

“I love to just learn, period,” Colonna said. “I had only been [at Amherst College] three years. But I also recognized it was a very small institution and a private institution and so there was only so much I felt like I could do to grow as an individual.”

Colonna hails from Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, a borough just north of Pittsburgh. The city’s biggest claim to fame is being featured in the 1993 comedy “Groundhog Day”. His work in residential life, spanning 15 years, has taken him to Massachusetts, North Carolina and near Chicago, but Long Beach is the farthest he has ventured from home.

Although this campus is the largest school he has worked with, the atmosphere has been welcoming.

“They talk about the Beach family,” he said. “It’s this sense that people know each other and they remember students in a way that I didn’t know was necessarily possible at such a large institution. So I’m really impressed with that.”

To some, he’s helping to continue an inclusive, family feeling to the dorms.  

“It’s been a really pleasant experience so far,” said Juan Gonzalez, an area coordinator supervised by Colonna. “He’s come in with lots of initiative, drive and ideas to take the department in a positive direction. He has something to make it more homey for the residents and a good place for the staff as well.”

Colonna got into the housing life the way he says most people do — by serving as a residential assistant. He first served as an assistant while attending Saint Vincent College as an undergraduate. Part of this decision was financial. The youngest of four, Colonna had to get creative when it came to paying for college. As the authority figure in the dorms, he received room and board for free and found his passion for helping people along the way.

Colonna owes some of his management style to his background in literature, which he says inspires him to think about differences and life’s big questions. He enjoyed sharing that experience as an english teacher and now he brings that literary toolkit to the dorms.

“I realize that I get to [teach] very directly when I worked in housing because people come to you with problems,” he said. “Or you see conflict on your floor and you help [students] understand how to respect each other. And I was wanting to do all that through literature.”

While Colonna recognizes the higher he moves up in his career the less he has direct contact with students, he hopes that his decisions at the executive level are able to make the lives of students on campus better.

“I have some opportunities to still enjoy the energy of being around young people,” he said. “I was in the dining halls and talking to students and I said ‘yeah this is why I’m here.’ These are the people that give me energy and the work that gives me energy. So I’m in it for the long haul. This is my career. “


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