University: University of South Florida, Class of 2017
Pronouns: She, Her, Hers
Hometown / Place You Call Home: Knoxville, TN and Tampa, FL
When Were You An RA? Fall 2015 - Spring 2017
In Which Building? Beta Hall for both years
Favorite thing about Beta Hall: My favorite thing about being an RA in Beta was that I was working with freshman every day. There's something special about them. They were going through so much change and I was able to help them through so many life changing experiences. I'll always cherish those memories.
Why did you apply for the Resident Assistant Position?: I didn't come into USF with the intention of being really involved. It all started with me being chosen to be an Orientation Team Leader for the summer of 2015. After that, I was hooked on USF's inclusive culture and wanted to make a difference on campus. I also had an incredible resident assistant my first year in Castor. I always appreciated how she brought our community together and helped create some of my favorite memories from my freshman year.
What did you learn as a resident assistant?: I learned that the smallest gestures can go a long way. Many times, people just want to be acknowledged and to know that someone out there genuinely cares about them. Listening to a resident in need or remembering a minute fact about them can make a huge difference.
What kept you motivated while in the job?: Honestly, my residents kept me going. There were nights that I really didn't want to be on duty or answer, yet again, another call, but it was the unexpected interactions that impacted me the most. When students would come to me for advice or simply needed someone to confide in. Those were the moments that made me realize that I was actually helping my residents navigate through the ever-changing, and often turbulent, transition period to college life. The beauty of being on Beta's staff was that we were also one of the smallest teams in residence life. We were like a little family and our RLC, Jonathan Hart, always held us accountable.
What skills do you currently use in your life that you gained from being a resident assistant? I am currently a personal assistant to a celebrity in Hollywood and aspects of being a resident assistant have definitely translated over. Being an RA taught me to be adaptable in changing, and sometimes frantic, situations. With my current position, my boss could need anything at any time. She might need me to simply help her take a photo for Instagram, or coordinate travel for a last minute trip. Working with freshman taught me to be proactive and to constantly be anticipating the potential needs of my residents. Those skills are incredibly pertinent to what I do now and I am extremely thankful to have acquired them.
What is your favorite memory from being an RA?: Oh my gosh. I have so many. I would say move in day every year. That was always an exciting time. My residents would get to know each other and I would take them to the balloon drop. It was very nostalgic for me because my RA did that with me and my floor mates in my freshman year back in 2014. That was the day I made some of my best friends in college.
What advice would you give for current and/or future resident assistants?: Don't take yourself too seriously. Every situation is temporary. If there's a resident that's giving you issues, instead of automatically turning into an authority figure, reach out to them and see what you can do to help them. When people act out, it's usually a cry for help, not disciplinary action. Also, take time for yourself. Whether that be going home for a weekend, meeting up with friends, or going out on a date - it's important to remember that you are a person outside of your RA position.
What have you done since graduating from college?: I moved to Los Angeles, California, did an internship at a PR agency, toured with an international band, and landed the position that I am currently in now.
What are you currently doing?: I'm currently a celebrity personal assistant. It keeps me busy, but I am constantly on social media. My friends think I'm weird because I LOVE LinkedIn. It's such a positive platform. It's my favorite medium to use because the community is coming together to uplift and cheer each other on in our professional pursuits. You can find me on LinkedIn as Payton Booker. I've had a lot of current students at USF request to link with me lately, but very few reach out. I'm really into giving back and as an alumna, I want students to reach out if they have any professional questions, or simply want advice. I also love Instagram. My handle is @paytonbooker. I respond pretty fast on both platforms.
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