Resident assistants ready to welcome U

Noor Khaled was scrolling on her phone when an interesting email popped up. “Congratulations,” it said.

“I immediately ran to my friend, Sam, who was in my room at the time,” said Khaled, a rising sophomore majoring in international studies and economics. “I threw the phone at her and started squealing and jumping around, and she was like, ‘What? What? You got it?’ And I nodded and we screamed together.”

Khaled got what 120 University of Miami students wanted – a position as a residential assistant for the 2018-2019 school year. The job went to 38 new applicants and 51 returning residential assistants, said Mike Piacentino, marketing specialist for the Department of Housing & Residential Life.

The RAs were selected during spring semester.

Mackenzie Mayhew, an outgoing RA at Hecht Residential College McDonald Tower, said the process is selective. The neuroscience major said that around 175 students apply each year and only 30-40 are accepted. It all depends on how many the university needs for that year. Piacentino said RAs who would like to return must reapply each year.

One selected student, Sam Seidel, said the application process was long and detailed. Students were required to attend mandatory informational sessions before being eligible to apply.

“You had to turn in a cover letter and your résumé and recommendations around late January, then an individual interview followed, by a group interview the next day,” said Seidel, a marketing major.

Another student selected was Jonathan Benitez, a biochemistry and chemistry double major.

“The group interview was very fun and involved skits of situations RAs might have to handle,” Benitez said. “The individual process was kind of intimidating because it was just three directors bombarding you with questions that are hard to come up with right on the spot.”

To be eligible for the position, students must be full-time undergraduates taking 12-18 credits each semester. They must have completed two semesters at the university and maintain a GPA of 2.75, according to the Resident Assistant Terms of Employment.

Residential assistants are not only required to look after all students on their floor; they must also work at the lobby desk four hours each week, provide on duty-coverage, lead tours, assist with opening and closing of residential areas, educate students about safety measures, report emergencies and complete inspections.

Mayhew said RAs are rewarded for their work with free housing, free meal plans and a stipend every two weeks. The amount depends on the number of years the student has been an RA, but it ranges from about $85 to $110.

But the benefits aren’t what seal the deal, many students say.

“I decided to be an RA because I love responsibility,” Khaled said. “I want to be the one to watch over others while they grow in an environment like college, particularly UM. I also noticed how the RA community is so closely knit and how they hold so much passion in what they do. So, I decided to apply, hoping I could be a part of that.”

Benitez, a commuter student, had a more personal connection to the position.

“I applied to be an RA because when I first moved onto campus I had a hard time adjusting; I felt lost in a city I’ve lived in my entire life.” he said. “So, I wanted to make sure I can help any freshman who feels lost or out of place and help make UM their second home.”

While the new selection of RAs gears up for their first, second or third year on staff, graduating seniors close out their last semester as RAs. Mayhew, who graduated in May, said the hardest part of leaving each year is saying goodbye to her staff.

“I’ve lived in Hecht my entire college career,” she said. “It will be strange not returning in early August to spend two weeks hating every minute of training – but secretly loving all of it.”

Mayhew, who will be going to medical school in the fall, said she can’t wait to see the students she recommended for the position succeed.

She encourages them to get to know their residents and “hang out with them.”

“You’re here for them, but at the same time, you have a lot to learn from them,” Mayhew said. “This experience will be what you make of it and what you put into it.”

For more information regarding the RA application process, email or call Housing & Residential Life at 305-284-4505.

This story originally appeared in First Impression 2018 and was written by Contributing Writer Dylan Kossar.