Portrait of Sam Guyton, an NYU resident assistant at Brittany Hall.

Is your resident assistant (RA) there just to get you in trouble for blasting music? Nope. They’re a great resource. We asked Sam Guyton, an RA at Brittany Hall, home to 579 NYU first-year students, about adjusting to life in New York City, what kind of programming incoming students can expect in their residence hall, and what he loves most about his job. Sam is a junior studying music business at NYU Steinhardt.

Why did you want to become a resident assistant?

My resident assistant during my first year at NYU showed me how impactful an RA can be. I felt like I would be able to carry on her tradition. If I’ve learned from certain mistakes and can help make someone’s year smoother, I feel it is my responsibility to help out a fellow Violet. Being an RA has proven more beneficial than I could have imagined when I entered the job. Now I have a family of 14 other RAs and a residence hall staff who have made this year my favorite academic year to date.

Three students hanging out in an NYU dorm room.
How do you help build community for the students who live on your floor?

Brittany Hall has three Explorations floors, where students can apply to live based on certain themes. I am the RA of the music Explorations floor, F.A.M.E. (Featuring All Music Endeavors). I’m able to use my skills as a performer, music student, and choreographer to help guide the residents that share this passion. We all started out having something in common. I help facilitate ideas for the community, but the music is what bonds us.

This general consensus of having a love for music makes programming easy. We have an Open Mic Night once a month, we see shows in the city, and sometimes we just sit, eat pizza, and listen to music together. Someone always has a show coming up or is working on a project, and there are more than 40 people on our floor to help facilitate any project. Music has done its job of keeping us all together. In fact, there have been times when I walk out into the hallway to find a full dance party going on!

A student doing schoolwork in his dorm room.
What do you find most rewarding about being an RA?

When I first discovered that I was going to be an RA, I immediately thought back to my experience as an orientation leader (OL) for the first-year music business students. As an OL, I learned that being a mentor gives you an opportunity to have deep, meaningful relationships with others in the NYU community. I felt becoming an RA was the best way to build upon this experience.

Two students working on their laptops in a dorm room.
What else are you responsible for as an RA?

It’s really hard being a first-year student living away from home for the first time. As a non-New York native myself, I can relate to this. So I share helpful tips on how to cope with life here in New York City. College is difficult in and of itself, but if you also factor in the rigor of the city, it can be overwhelming. On my floor, we often speak about the idea of taking a personal day, going to the park, or finding a local coffee shop to call your own.

What is unique about being an RA at NYU that might not be a factor at another school?

To be an RA at NYU, you have to be very aware of the world outside of the academic classroom. You have to be street smart and be able to translate that into language that helps first-year residents not only prepare to handle the academic load but also live as young adults in New York City. This includes dealing with the expenses of the city, navigating the subway, and finding nights when you are not out on the town. In addition, NYU attracts students from all over the world, so you have to be mindful that people are coming from many different cultural, academic, and social backgrounds.

Cindy Nowicki is a writer and content strategist in NYU’s Office of Marketing Communications. She enjoys meeting with students to learn about their experiences and telling the stories of all the wonderful things happening at NYU. Cindy holds a BA in English from the University of Richmond and studied English literature at the University of Bristol, England. A Brooklyn native, she still discovers new things about New York City every day. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two young sons.