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Campus & Community

New Kid on the Quad

Resident Director Raising Newborn on Campus to Celebrate First Father’s Day

By Liam Farrell

Wright family

Resident Director James Wright Jr. and his wife, Desirae, pose with their smiling son, James III. The couple is raising him in on-campus housing, an arrangement that is nontraditional but that they believe beneficial to his social development.

Photo courtesy of the Wrights

Meeting new people, staying up late and going on long walks on the Mall are all rites of passage for new residents at the University of Maryland—even if at least one Terp does them from a stroller.

Resident Director James Wright Jr. and his wife, Desirae, are one of the newest Terp families within the Terp family and have been raising their son, James III, on campus in Queen Anne’s Hall since he was born in February.

“It offers him a fun story for when he’s in first grade,” Wright said.

Wright, whose wife has also worked in higher education, has been the resident director for Caroline, Carroll, Wicomico and Worcester halls since last July, after working in campus life for the University of Nevada, Reno. He oversees resident assistants in each hall and manages conduct cases, programming and building logistics.

The campus community has been great, Wright said, with his son lighting up every time he sees students.

“At the moment, he hasn’t gotten the concept of waving,” he said. “However, he does give these big smiles when he meets new people. The students he has encountered are really open to him and generally excited to see him.”

Wright said students have been understanding about his learning curve in balancing work and family, and the onset of summer has eased the pressure of keeping down the noise in their two-bedroom apartment—although so far, no one in Queen Anne’s has complained. (“I know I would,” he said with a laugh.)

Finding a network of other parents is admittedly a challenge; the UMDParents email listserv has been a virtual asset, Wright said. He also sees the interactions with childless campus residents as a two-way exchange.

“The hope is that, the more people socialize with him, the better he can become at exposing himself to different cultures of people throughout life,” he said. “(And) I get to expose others to a more untraditional way of living.”

Wright is still weighing his long-term career path and exploring options in student orientation. As he prepares to celebrate his first Father’s Day, he’s also taking to heart the same lessons that he tells his students—and preparing to pass them down one day to James III.

“It’s really just being flexible, being patient with yourself and knowing it’s OK to make mistakes,” he said.

Schools & Departments:

Department of Resident Life

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