Malin serves as “dorm mom” for SCCC students


Jessica Madrigal

Jen Malin is often called “Mama Jen” by residents in the Student Living Center. The SCCC Student Housing Director can often fill the role of “mom” for students away from home by answering questions on how to do laundry, what to do when they are sick and etc.

Jen Malin started the interview the second she walked in. 

“I crumped my hair for this and put it up and now it doesn’t look too good but it’s okay, it’s okay,”  she said, laughing and touching her hair before sitting down to only be immediately interrupted by a phone call.

That’s how it goes with Malin as she tries to juggle everything in her job as director of student housing at Seward County Community College. The interview was originally to take about 30 minutes, however, it took over an hour with constant bursts of laughter, business calls and residents walking in and out. 

The constant activity, juggling of schedules and caring for children is the definition of a “mom.”  Malin is a different type of mom for the Student Living Center residents – a dorm mom.  Residents even call her “Mama Jen.”

Crusader: What made you decide to come to Seward County Community College?

A: It was Alaina [Rice, SCCC’s registrar] telling me that there was a position that she thought I would be perfect for because I had done cell phones for the last 14 years.

Crusader: How long have you been at Seward?

A: This is my fourth year so I have completed a total of three years at Seward.

Crusader: Are you on campus 24/7? 

A: Yes, I live in the SLC [student living center] with the students.

Crusader: How is it living with the residents?

A: Oh my, some days it is amazing and there are days it is a full moon and everyone is just running around but for the most part I like it and like being here. 

Crusader: Would you say you know most of your residents? 

A: To be honest no I do not know all the residents but out of about the 176 residents that do live here I know about 75% to 80% of them. 

Jen Malin’s day is normally made up of constant interruptions and juggling multiple things at once. She not only is in charge of the student housing for SCCC but she also supervises the resident assistants that work in the SLC. (Jessica Madrigal )

Crusader: Would you consider the residents as your own? 

A: I do, some more than others. There are some residents that I found that are afraid of me but I just don’t ever force myself onto students. If they want to get to know me they come into the office and we chit-chat and just talk about life, but yes I do, I consider most of them like my kids.

Crusader: Do you get any help with the residents or with the dorms, if you do, what do they help with?

A: Yes, I have help at the dorms. I have my assistant, Paul, he’s in his 11th year in housing. I also have nine amazing RA’s that help with anything that Paul or I may need. 

Crusader: What is your favorite part about being a dorm mom?

A: I would say just being there and being around the students. Being someone the residents can go to for advice or if they just need to vent, I’m an ear for them to go to. Also being with my RA’s because the housing staff in itself is a family. I just love being over here with my RA’s and residents. 

Crusader: When was your craziest year at the dorms and why? 

A: This year dealing with issues that we have had. Also with covid spikes consisting of having to get the ones who have tested positive out ASAP and to the hotel. Having to quarantine the close contacts, and try to make sure it does not spread because if there is an outbreak in the dorms my biggest fear is that everyone will be sent home and we would have to close down and it’s really quiet and boring when no one is around. 

Crusader: Would you recommend students moving into the dorms and why? 

A: I would recommend students move into the dorms. Personally, when I came to school here I stayed home but had friends here at the dorms. With visitation rules, I had to go home so I do not feel like I got the total college experience. If there are students that talk to me about moving into the dorms I always encourage them to move into the dorms because everybody needs to have that college experience and be around their friends and move away from mom and dad for a bit. 

Crusader: Overall would you say you have enjoyed being a dorm mom so far?

A: Yes, I have enjoyed being a dorm mom. They asked me in my interview when I first applied for this job what my biggest obstacle would be and my answer was getting too attached to the students. I mean by the end of the year I do get attached but the sophomores are like “see ya” and I am happy that they are continuing their education but I’ll miss them. I do love being a dorm mom though. 

This interview has been edited and condensed