RA positions serve as stepping stones

Earning a spot as a resident assistant is no easy task at Ohio University, and with the deadline to apply quickly approaching, some students might not notice the effect it can have on the roughly 250 hired per year.

The deadline to apply is Dec. 7, with the first of three rounds of cuts to be made during winter break, said Peter Trentacoste, executive director of Residential Housing.

The job is highly desirable because it is one of the higher paid student jobs, Trentacoste said.

With about 100 new positions open per year, the job covers 90 percent of a student’s room and board fees and also offers a $2,140 stipend for the first year a student is an RA and $3,240 for his or her second year.

“To me, it played a big role in my professional future,” said Trentacoste, who is in his sixth residential housing-related job since he was an RA at Bloomsburg University. “It taught me about leadership, learning about myself, how to work with people.”

Trentacoste is just one of many OU administrators who first started his professional career as an RA.

Ryan Lombardi, interim vice president for Student Affairs, said he learned many of his leadership skills during his two years as an RA at West Chester University and two as a residential director at the University of Kansas.

“It’s a really great way to start in Student Affairs,” he said.

Interim Dean of Students Jenny Hall-Jones hasn’t left Athens since first becoming an RA while studying at OU, a job that ultimately changed her major — from forensic science to sociology and criminology — and future.

“It was a big deal (to be an RA) and a lot of people applied,” she said. “I got a positive recommendation, but not the highest.”

Hall-Jones didn’t make the final cut, citing her shy, introverted personality at the time, but got a second chance when the decision was made to change Crawford Hall from an all men residence hall to a  coed one.

“It was originally all about giving me something to do and the money but what I found was my connection to Ohio University, leadership skills and my voice when I became an RA,” Hall-Jones said.

Hall-Jones decided to stay at OU after graduating, eventually earning her masters and completing her Ph.D. She decided to change her major as an undergraduate when a resident fell from Crawford and died.

“I wanted to be the person that helps,” she said. “It’s not just a job, it’s a life skill building opportunity transferable to anything you would like to be.”

Trentacoste, a first generation college student, said he didn’t originally make the cut, but it didn’t stop him from applying again.

“Be persistent. It is a highly desirable and sought out job. If you don’t get it first … try it again and go for a second time,” Trentacoste said.

Students can fill out an application online through the Residential Housing office’s website. However, two completed reference sheets must be physically turned in to Residential Housing by 5 p.m. on Dec. 7.

“RAs tend to be some of the best student leaders we have,” Lombardi said. “The position builds leadership and communication skills.”


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