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Where RA Now?

June 5, 2020 Erin Callihan New York University

Excellence Awards recognize the contributions of members who are transforming higher education through outstanding programs, innovative services, and effective administration. NASPA's Excellence Awards cover eleven categories crucial to the success of students. Sharing our successes benefit students, improves institutions, and promotes our profession. 

2020 Alumni Community Relations Family Programs Fundraising and related Excellence Award Winner: Erin Callihan and New York University

With two seasons and over 120 episodes, the Where RA Now Podcast continues to be a pillar in the NYU RA Alumni Community. It was created in the summer of 2018 and has had over 9,600 people in 56 different countries listen to it since its inception. The podcast, which is co-hosted by Tom Ellett, the Senior AVP of Student Affairs at NYU, and an RA Co-Host, was created with the intention to connect current RA’s with RA Alumni. However, it has grown to be so much more. The podcast has created many opportunities for current RAs while allowing them to learn about skills that were garnered by alumni through serving as RAs. A number of these connections have resulted in on-going mentorships, and a few have turned into internships or visits to the alumnus’s workplace.

Furthermore, NYU has 11 academic schools, including professional schools, liberal arts, humanities, and engineering. The diversity of academic programs provides a tremendous spectrum of the guests for the podcast. Both seasons have featured alumni lawyers, doctors, faculty members, non-profit directors, actors, politicians, accountants, fashion experts, entrepreneurs, life coaches, photographers, authors, storytellers, and public relations/advertising employees. This level of career diversity provides the RA staff at NYU the opportunity to dream big, knowing that the possibilities are endless.

After each recording of an episode, we send Alumni an exit survey that allows them to reflect on their experience during the podcast. Below are some of their comments:

Kim Pham (Season 1, Ep 11) 

“Recording the podcast was unexpectedly a lovely and nostalgic walk down memory lane. It reminded me of so many wonderful and transformative people + memories I had at NYU, and I'm thankful for that opportunity to reminisce.”

Emma Tattenbaum-Fine (Season 1, Ep 7)

“It was a pleasure to reflect on my time as an RA. Being a guest on this podcast gave me the opportunity to process my gratitude for this phase of my life and to speak directly to the soon-to-graduate "next generation". I felt a powerful and joyful sense of responsibility and purpose about that.”

Andy Chang (Season 1, Ep 1) 

“NYU was an awesome experience - a city to truly explore and be adventurous, oftentimes being a little too adventurous and taking too many risks. But my experience would not have been complete without the RA LIFE. The ability to share this with RAs and grow together has been nothing short of a life-changing experience in my life, and I continue to apply such skills in the hospital and everyday life. I owe much of my growth to Tom Ellett. He has always been not just a great leader who inspires, but a genuine buddy and mentor who is always available to be an #influencer. When I think of NYU, I think of how Tom perfectly represents the NYU Torch - lighting the fire within RAs to inspire the next generation!"

The Where RA Podcast has gone above and beyond to connect more alumni to the Department of Residence Life & Housing Services and to the institution as a whole. It is a new way for younger alums to feel they are “giving back” to the institution by sharing their journey and by connecting with a current student. They are also reminded that they are still a member of the NYU “family.” For the current undergraduate RAs, they see, first hand, that alumni are willing to give their time and energy to the institution and to them.