There are many benefits to being an RA in a residence hall. Besides a room to yourself, living close to all academic buildings, and being paid to live on campus, you can become a leader, make new friendships and have a real impact on the students on your floor.
“The RAs have an opportunity to gain skills in working with their peers, serving in a strong team orientated environment, making a difference in students lives on a daily basis, and get to learn about the many resources offered on campus,” Jerry Adams, the director for residence life said.
With applications opening on November 29, we wanted to give an inside look at what it is really like to be one; and who better to hear from than the resident assistants themselves?
Jacob Stembridge, a fourth-year student studying psychology with a minor in neuroscience, has been an RA in Stokely for the past three years.
“I decided to become an RA to help build a community for the residents living on campus, specifically for the first-year students that are coming to UTK,” Stembridge said. “College is a major change for anyone, and I believe that it is important to have a feeling of belonging and a community to come home to every day.”
Stokely Hall is home to 670 students with super-suite-style residence rooms.
“As RA’s we are building a community for anyone that lives on campus, and we have an impact on the college experience not only for ourselves, but also for the residents that live in the buildings,” Stembridge said about why being an RA has been important to him. “This position can also open up opportunities for professional networking and experiences to enhance your professional skills, and it also allows you to meet a variety of people and build friendships that will last far beyond our time here at UTK.”
After living in Robinson for the past two years, you could say Cobi Genna, a third-year student with a geology and environmental studies major and elementary education minor, enjoys her duties as an RA.
“I had a really amazing relationship with my RA and I was on my Hall Council, so being an RA was a natural progression for me,” Genna said about what made her want to become an RA. “I also thought that there would be a lot of things that I could learn as an RA that would be useful to me in the classroom when I graduate and begin teaching.”
She also gave great examples of the benefits and things to consider before applying to be an RA.
“I think other students would want to be RAs because of the leadership opportunities and the opportunities to connect with other people on campus through resident interactions,” Genna said. “The pay is, of course, a big incentive as well as getting a single room for the price of a double, but some of the downsides could definitely be the fact that you live where you work which can be hard sometimes; it’s important to develop a work/life balance.”
“Being an RA also provides such a great outlet for creativity which I think a lot of people enjoy, myself included,” she adds. Robinson provides housing to 296 students with pod-style rooms.
Jacob Hale is a third-year cinema studies major with an entrepreneurship minor who is in his second year of being an RA. Laurel houses 590 students and is located north of the main campus. Hale details what the application process looks like.
“It’s a little selective, and after you apply you go through an intensive and involved interview that tests your ability to work in a team and lead,” Hale said. “If you are accepted through the interview, then you’re entered into the ELPS leadership course with a pool of other RA candidates. After the class is over, your instructor evaluates your performance in the class, and out of the top selection the RA’s get picked.”
Besides a GPA requirement and wanting to be a mentor for students, there aren’t too many guidelines on who can apply.
“Being an RA has given me an entirely different perspective on the college experience,” Hale said when asked how RA life has impacted him. “The job has been more than a job, my staff has been more like a family, and I have found the best friends here, made the strongest memories, and have really started to come into my own and learn how to execute my role as a leader.”
RA’s get the unique opportunity to teach other students what the college experience is all about. Through conducting hall meetings, one-on-one meetings, and bonding activities with their residents, being an RA is both an honor and a responsibility.
For more information on housing and residence halls, visit University Housing, and to find out more about RA applications, go to Student Employment.
Elizabeth is a senior from Philadelphia, PA, majoring in public relations with a minor in business management. She has a passion for graphic design, social media and writing, and her favorite thing to do at UT is attending football games with her friends. She plans to move to Nashville after her graduation in May to pursue public relations and marketing.