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Where R.A. Now?

Author: Tom Ellett

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Resident Assistants are the most important peer support for students in college. This podcast is dedicated to finding where the former RAs of New York University have gone since their days assisting students at NYU, and learning about what skills they still utilize from their training as an RA.

Hosted by Tom Ellett, Sr. Associate Vice President of Student Affairs at NYU, and a current RA who aspires to be in the career field of our guest.
92 Episodes
John Sanchez is a lifelong Bronx resident and currently the District Manager for Bronx Community Board 6, which includes the neighborhoods of Belmont, East Tremont, and West Farms in the Central Bronx. He is responsible for resolving community concerns with city government, advocating for budget requests to elected officials and city agencies, and planning community events. In his first year, he successfully advocated to bring a Youth Court to The Bronx and worked with the Department of Small Business Services to receive more than $200,000 in grants for storefront facade improvements on East Tremont Ave. He has also sponsored and organized free financial literacy workshops, youth sports programming, a college scholarship competition, and an annual Holiday toy giveaway for children living in shelters.John previously served as New York City Advocacy Manager for the Northeast Charter Schools Network helping advocate for increased charter school funding and also served in the New York State Assembly as Deputy Chief of Staff for a Bronx Assembly member where he was responsible for managing the district office, resolving constituent issues, and community outreach .John serves on the nonprofit boards of Housing Rights Initiative, Legacy College Prep Charter School, and Immaculate Conception School. John is a graduate of New York University’s Stern School of Business.
John D Carrion, originally from Chicago, holds two degrees from NYU: a Bachelor of Arts from the College of Arts and Science (2006) and a Master of Public Administration from the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service (2007).From 2004-2006, John was an RA at Hayden (now Lipton) Hall.  For his work as an RA, he received the NYU President's Service Award in 2005 and the RA of the Year Award in 2006. He was also a Martin Luther King, Jr serving as class representative during his entire college career.  Finally, he served as University Orientation Leader, Assistant Coordinator for Undergraduate Orientation, and as Class Marshal at the Baccalaureate Ceremony in the College of Arts and Science.After NYU, John worked at St. John's University first as Residence Director, then as Assistant Director of the Ozanam Scholars Program, and finally as Associate Director of the Paris Campus.  In 2010, he relocated to London and worked at two different UK charities - the Royal College of Psychiatrists and Marie Curie Cancer Care - as a project manager.  In 2014, he returned to NYU in a newly created role as Assistant Director for Global Housing Administration where he oversees the housing administration for NYU's study away sites.  Additionally, he works with NYU's external partners to generate revenue for the university and contribute to NYU's affordability efforts.Additionally, at NYU, John serves as President of the NYU Alumni Club in London.  Since 2014, John has revitalized the club to quadruple the number of events, involve NYU's global faculty, and host New Student Send-Offs in London and in Mumbai. Most recently, he created, chaired, and hosted the inaugural NYU Alumni Conference in Europe in November 2019 which hosted over 200 alumni and guests.Outside of NYU, in 2013 John was elected the youngest Chairman and Chief Executive of the London Gay Men's Chorus. Overseeing 10 staff and 80 volunteers, he led the Chorus to its 25th anniversary celebrations, to campaign for equal marriage at the Houses of Parliament, and facilitated a 100% growth in membership.  In 2014, he was invited to the 10 Downing Street celebration to meet Prime Minister David Cameron after the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill was given Royal Ascent.
Michelle is a graduate of the NYU Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute and NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service with a BA in both broadcast journalism and religious studies and an MPA in international policy.  She returned to media and co-founded BellyFire Productions after working for several years in global education and the nonprofit sector and traveling extensively in the Middle East, South Asia, and Southeast Asia.  BellyFire Productions creates video content that illuminates compelling, powerful stories to ignite action and generate awareness. During the year, she and her team collaborate with mission-focused partners using video and photography to advance their work. Michelle also produces, shoots, and edits documentary content for outlets such as CNN Digital and NBC Digital.  Her year spans NYC/South Asia/the US Midwest and several regions in between depending on where work, family, and nature-seeking takes her.
.Gracy Sarkissian is the Senior Director of the Wasserman Center for Career Development at NYU. She has 14 years of experience in higher education administration. She oversees career development for over 26,000 undergraduate students at New York University and leads employer engagement initiatives serving over 50,000 undergraduate students, graduate students, and alumni. Gracy is a thoughtful leader who has a reputation for creating strong partnerships, meaningful collaborations, and student-centered services. She speaks across campus, teaches both graduate and undergraduate students, and trains employers and academic partners across the globe.  She designs career education programs and initiatives aligned with the university's strategic priorities and is deeply committed to student success and inclusion. Gracy serves on the New York City Mayor’s Office Talent Coalition, NYU's Provostial Working Group on Disability, Inclusion and Accessibility, and the National Association for Colleges and Employers Inclusion Committee. Gracy holds a Masters in Organizational Communication and a Bachelors in Psychology & Politics from New York University.
Samantha and Brian Lawton are life and dance partners who met as RAs at NYU’s Brittany Hall. Samantha studied dance at Tisch School of the Arts and Brian studied nutrition at Steinhardt. Since then they have become specialists in Lindy Hop/Swing and the Vintage Jazz Dances with a wide knowledge of the ballroom dances. Together they direct for Norwegian Cruise Line, were featured dancers in 'The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel', been in the Red Hot Chili Peppers music video “Go Robot”, have done pre-production for Broadway shows, directed and choreographed a national tour, and have taught in India, Paris, and London. They feel so grateful that dance has led to so many amazing opportunities, allowed them to travel to exciting new locations around the world, and has let them experience it all together.
Kimberly DiPersia is an actress, screenwriter, and producer living in New York City. A graduate of NYU Tisch School of the Arts (BFA Drama ‘07), she has had a varied and interesting career in the entertainment industry. Kimberly has performed in regional theatre (Roxy Regional Theatre, TN), understudied Off-Broadway (Pearl Theatre Company), and been a stand-in on Steven Spielberg’s set (Bridge of Spies). She has worked in the production office for New York film and television shows (including Billions, Red Oaks, and Private Life) and has produced award-winning independent short films and web series, including the animated documentary, For A Better Life, which screened at the most recent DOC NYC Festival, and the dark comedy, Zombied, now streaming on Amazon Prime. She is currently in post-production for her short film, Junie & Frank, which she wrote, produced, and acted in.  Kimberly is a staff writer and actor in the sketch comedy group, The Egos, streaming on Amazon Prime.
RYANN REDMOND is so thrilled to currently be the first female Olaf in Disney’s Frozen on Broadway. Broadway: Frozen, Escape to Margaritaville, If/Then, Bring It On. TV: “Younger.” Film: “Double Exposure.” Off-Broadway: Usual Girls (Roundabout), Gigantic (Vineyard), Marvelous Wonderettes. National Tour: Escape to Margaritaville, Bring It On. Regional: How to Succeed (TUTS), Hairspray (MUNY), Kiss Me Kate (Bay Street Theatre). NYU (CAP21). Twitter/Instagram: @ryannreds
BORN AN HOUR DRIVE OUTSIDE OF DENVER, COLORADO…in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains, AJ Smith has taken a ratherunconventional path for an Indie/Pop singer-songwriter.After all, not many can claim to have served as a Young AssociateViolinist to the National Symphony Orchestra while simultaneouslyserving as an Engineer and Infrared Systems Developer for the U.S.Naval Research high school. But Smith's dual passionsfor organic music and technology started early and with a recklessabandon that led him to run away from home at the age of 3 for thesole purpose of listening to piano lessons down the street. Hisparents finally realized that these escapades would only stop onceSmith himself, still only 3-years-old at the time, was allowed tolearn how to play the piano. And shortly after that, despite havinglimited music knowledge, Smith was stealing both of his parents' tapeplayers, figuring out how to effectively multitrack & record earlycompositions (while haphazardly recording over some of his parents'favorite cassette tapes in the process).The trend continued and, never shy about seizing opportunities orfacing challenges, Smith’s diverse passions and healthy obsessions ledhim on a genre-crossing journey. While learning piano and violin inrigorous classical settings, Smith's musical palette continuouslysought new sounds, leading him to serve as the drummer/vocalist in hismiddle school Punk/Screamo band, electric guitarist in a Rock duo, andeven the lead fiddler in the regionally touring Bluegrass/Gospel bandThe Circuit Riders. Oh, and all of this was while he was programmingand selling games to his friends for their calculators.Eventually, Smith would turn down scholarships to some of the topengineering programs in the country in order to pursue the study ofmusic at New York University. With scholarships from the SongwritersHall of Fame and Carole Bayer Sager Foundation, Smith was able topursue a degree in songwriting and it was there where he foundlife-changing mentors in the late Glenn Frey and hit songwriter PhilGaldston, self-released his first EP “Dragons in the Sky”, had a #3hit in Australia with “Summertime”, opened for The Eagles at theBeacon Theatre, performed in the off-Broadway and West End hit Closeto You: Burt Bacharach Reimagined, learned some more instruments (heplays 10 now), and graduated with one of America’s first MastersDegrees in Songwriting.Smith collaborated with GRAMMY-winner producer Scott Jacoby (JohnLegend, Vampire Weekend) for his 2016 single & EP “Brooklyn Nights”,which received airplay on Z100, Eagle 97.7 and DC101 (where DJ MikeJones compared the track to fun.’s “We Are Young”). He’s opened forLindsey Stirling and Emily Kinney, and performed at MilwaukeeSummerfest and Bethlehem MusikFest.Now nearly 2,000 miles away from where his musical journey began,Smith makes his home in a city with a different sort of breathtakingview - New York. And all of his experiences are apparent in his uniquePop sound: an orchestrated blend of acoustic and electronicinstruments, informed by Classical, Rock, Folk, Theatre and more. Hiscontinued wiz-kid love of technology that once had him buildinginfrared sensors for the U.S. Navy now enables him to build out customrigs for his one-man live shows that are a spectacle of showmanship,featuring Smith on a revolving multitude of instruments all at once.Be sure to stay in touch to see Smith's next live show!
Priyanka Chugh is a recent graduate of Cooper Medical School of Rowan University in NJ, now currently a General Surgery resident at Boston Medical Center. She has previously received her Masters in Biotechnology from Johns Hopkins University in 2014. At NYU she was in the College of Arts of Science and graduated in 2013 with a major in Psychology, minors in Chemistry, Public Health and Policy, and Child/Adolescent Mental Health Studies. At NYU she was involved in residence life since her freshman year by joining hall council at Third North, then at Gramercy Green, joining NRHH, and finally becoming a Resident Assistant at Third North for her junior and senior year,
Erica Tachoir is a Brooklyn-based writer/director. She was featured in Tracking Board’s 2018 Young and Hungry List, named to ISA’s 2019 Top 25 Screenwriters to Watch, and selected for the 2019 NYWIFT From Script To Pre-Production Lab. Her screenplay SCATTERING JAKE was a Nicholl semifinalist, Big Break and Page finalist, and a WeScreenplay and Table Read My Screenplay winner. Her short TOO SUNNY FOR SANTA (starring Natalia Dyer from Stranger Things) screened at festivals across the country. With her comedy partner, she co-wrote and starred in the web series LIFE, AFTER, and they were named notable writers at the New York Television Festival for their pilot script, UNFINISHED. A graduate NYU/Tisch Film, Erica also studied at FAMU in Prague, Atlantic Theater Company, and UCB. She is repped by MXN Entertainment in Los Angeles.
Lauren Bosch ’12 SPS (Hotel & Tourism Management) was an RA in Third North. As an RA she had internships at Hotel Indigo, Gansevoort Hotel Group, and Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. Her first full-time position upon graduation was with the Westin Hotel in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She worked in Sales and Business Travel & Group Sales. For the past six years, Lauren has five roles with Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, all in the Metro DC area. She was promoted to the position of Area Director of Sales & Marketing, which is a remarkable trajectory for someone at this phase of their career.
Brittney Johnson a Tisch alum has had tremendous success in her acting career.  Her Broadway credits include: Wicked (Glinda, certain performances); Sunset Boulevard (Ensemble); Beautiful: The Carole King Musical (Ensemble, Shirelle, Little Eva); Les Misérables (Eponine); Motown: The Musical (Swing & replacement).  In Los Angeles: Dreamgirls, at La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts (Lorell Robinson); Tropicana Las Vegas: Mamma Mia! (Lisa).  Westchester Broadway Theatre: Ragtime (Sarah). Toronto, ON: Les Misérables (Eponine, Ensemble) The Really Useful Group, Ltd, Mirvish Productions.  US National Tour (25th Anniversary): Les Misérables (The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts Innovation Studio, Philadelphia, PA, Broward Center for the Performing Arts Au-Rene Theatre, Fort Lauderdale, FL, and 67 other venues). Weathervane Theatre (Whitefield, NH) Ragtime (Ensemble, Sarah's friend), Hair (Tribe), South Pacific, and Bye, Bye Birdie.Awards - 2016, nomination: Ovation Award: Lead Actress in a Musical Dreamgirls - Lorell Robinson.Follow her on Twitter @sunnybrittney 
Pooja Kumar spent a year on "Laff Staff" as an RA in Lafayette Hall, and graduated from Stern in 2008 with a degree in International Business and Accounting. She spent her early professional years working as a CPA until she realized she was way too fun for that life. She moved to Washington, D.C., transitioned into human capital consulting, and spent five years supporting clients in the public sector on strategic change and communications projects. For the last five years, Pooja has been working for Marriott International, currently as a Digital Customer Experience Adviser incorporating consumer insights into the digital strategy for the company.
Leah Gutstadt is a Senior Manager, Digital Content at PwC, where she oversees editorial and content strategy for the firm's internal communications platforms. In a previous role at PwC, Leah supported the Responsible Business Leadership (formerly Corporate Responsibility) team with communications strategy and messaging, with the goal of engaging PwC US’ 50,000+ partners and staff. Leah received a Master's Degree in Strategic Communications from Columbia University and a Bachelor's Degree from New York University. She lives in Ossining, NY with her husband and two sons.
Maya Ardon serves as the Director for Student Affairs in the NYU College of Dentistry Office of Student Affairs & Academic Support Services. Maya received a BA degree in drama studies cum laude from the State University of New York - Purchase College; her involvement in college as a campus leader and student athlete led to her pursuing an MA degree in higher education and student personnel administration from NYU Steinhardt. During her graduate program, Maya worked as a paraprofessional in the NYU Department of Residential Life and Housing Services, first as an RA in the Uptown Hall known as 26th Street and subsequently serving as a Graduate Assistant at 2nd Street. Maya began her professional career at NYU in 2007 as a Program Administrator at the NYU School of Medicine and continued to work in various capacities within the university before arriving to NYU Dentistry at the start of 2014. 
In this special episode leading us into Season 2 of 'Where RA Now?', Senior Associate Vice President of Student Affairs and usual host of the podcast, Tom Ellett, sits down with his Executive Producer, Shehara Ranasinghe, and Executive Director, Duncan Lemieux, to discuss his time hosting the show. 
Dr. Bryan Brazeau is a Senior Teaching Fellow in Liberal Arts at the University of Warwick (UK). He began at NYU as a graduate student in Italian Studies working with residential life (first on the Graduate Programming Initiative, and then as an RA in Stuy Town from 2009-2012). He obtained his Ph.D. in Italian Studies from NYU in 2015 and his MA in the same field from NYU in 2010. Prior to his arrival at NYU, Bryan obtained a BA in Western Society and Culture from Concordia University’s Liberal Arts College in Montréal in 2008. Bryan is currently editing a volume of essays on new perspectives in the study of early modern poetics, Beyond Aristotle's Poetics: New Directions in Early Modern Italian Literary Criticism—which emerges from a conference and graduate workshop that he organized at the Newberry Library in March 2017.As Senior Teaching Fellow in Liberal Arts at Warwick, Bryan teaches interdisciplinary courses such as Science, Society, and the Media; Underworlds; Paradises; and Sustaining the Serenissima: Venice and Sustainability (which includes a week at Warwick’s campus in Venice). As Study Abroad co-ordinator for the department, he also maintains and oversees exchange partnerships with international institutions in the Netherlands, Germany, and Canada. At Warwick, he has co-created programs such as the Early Career Convivium, and maintains the Centre for the Study of the Renaissance Podcast. Prior to his current role, Bryan served as Research Fellow at Warwick on a project funded by the European Research Council titled “Aristotle in the Vernacular,” with project teams at Warwick and at Ca’ Foscari in Venice. As part of his work on the project, he worked on the reception of Aristotle’s Poetics in early modern Italy, carried out the legacy migration of the Aristotle in the Vernacular Database and collaborated on an exhibition of early modern Aristotelian texts Aristotele e Venezia at the Museo Correr and Marciana Library in Venice. During this time, he also taught graduate-level seminar courses: Latin for Researchers; Early Modern Palaeography; and lectured on undergraduate courses such as Defining France; and The Epic Tradition. As part of this teaching, he helped organise field trips to the Bodleian Library (Oxford), and the British Library (London).Bryan has published several articles and book reviews in journals including MLN, Renaissance and Reformation, The Italianist, California Italian Studies, and History of European Ideas. His essays have appeared in collections such as Dante and Heterodoxy, ed. Maria Luisa Ardizzone (2014), and MLA Approaches to Teaching the Italian Renaissance Romance Epic (2018). He is also working on his first book, Hero of the Day: The Development of Christian Epic in Sixteenth-Century Italy. 
Dr. Ken Schneck is a tenured Professor and Director of the Leadership in Higher Education Program at Baldwin Wallace University where he teaches courses on race in society, ethical leadership, student development theory, and a slew of courses on how individuals can work with communities to create a more just world. He tours the country speaking on the topic of LGBTQ culture, community change, racial justice, and how you can use your voice to create actual change (instead of creating more meetings about actual change). Previously, he served as the Dean of Students for Marlboro College and the Assistant Dean of Student Affairs for Sarah Lawrence College. For 10 years, Ken was the producer and host of This Show is So Gay, a multi-award-winning, long-running, nationally syndicated radio show/podcast focused on people using their voices in a unique way to create dialogue around LGBTQ topics. For 430 episodes, he interviewed over 500 of the most notable names in LGBTQ culture from civil rights champions to champions of drag, presidential candidates to singer/songwriters, prolific authors to one former member of Menudo (not as famous as Ricky Martin…but just as gay). Ken is an author and freelance writer whose first book Seriously...What Am I Doing Here? The Adventures of a Wondering and Wandering Gay Jew (1984 Publishing) was released in 2017, second book LGBTQ Cleveland: Images of Modern America (Arcadia Publishing/The History Press) hit the shelves in 2018, and third book LGBTQ Columbus: Images of Modern America (Arcadia Publishing/The History Press) is due out in June of 2019. His freelance writing has been seen in a ton of national media including The Advocate, PRIZM Magazine, The Windy City Times, 201 Magazine, Bravo TV, NBC News, FreshWater Cleveland, and monthly pie
John Kazlauskas:  While an MA student at Gallatin studying documentary filmmaking and social justice, John worked as a Graduate Housing Assistant at 80 Lafayette. During that time he was also a Production Assistant on the Oscar-winning Bowling for Columbine, while his own documentary SPEAK UP! premiered at the San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Film Festival before being acquired for national distribution through the Media Education Foundation. While a Community Developement Educator (CDE) at Hayden Hall, John started the MFA program in Dramatic Writing at Tisch. Since leaving NYU, John has worked as a Writer’s Assistant, Script Cooridnator and Writer on TV shows including Brothers & Sisters, SMASH, Happily Divorced, Mulaney and currently NBC’s Superstore. In addition, he has written freelance jokes for Weekend Update on Saturday Night Live.Dr. Sara Klein currently serves as the AVP for Student Affairs at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ.   Prior to her role at Stevens, she served as Dean of Campus Life and Engagement and Title IX Coordinator at Wagner College.  Dr. Klein also held the positions of Associate Dean of Campus Life and Director of Res Ed at Wagner College.  Before coming to Wagner, she worked as a CDE in the Department of Res Ed at NYU, and as a Fixed Income, Currencies & Commodities analyst at Goldman, Sachs & Co. Dr. Klein is an adjunct professor at NYU in the HESA program.  She has also taught in Wagner College’s Executive MBA program and has instructed webinars for the American College Personnel Association and, as well as presented throughout the country at professional conferences, seminars, and workshops.   Dr. Klein has published articles in the Journal  of the First Year Experience and Students in Transition, the Journal of College and University Housing, and authored a chapter in Linking Theories to Practice: Case Studies for Working with College Students (3rd Edition). Dr. Klein earned her Ph.D. at NYU in Higher Education, where she also received a Master’s degree in the same subject.  She graduated from Washington University in St. Louis with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Music.  She lives with her husband, Ben, and two young children in Maplewood, NJ.Ryan Sylvester is a Judge Advocate (lawyer) in the U.S. Navy. He is a native of Little Falls, Minnesota. He completed a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communications (1998) as well as a Master of Science in Educational Leadership (2002) at Minnesota State University Moorhead; a Master of Science in Global Affairs (2007) at NYU; a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies at the U.S. Naval War College (2018); and a Juris Doctorate (2011) at Fordham University School of Law. He is currently working toward a Master of Science in Strategic Intelligence at the National Intelligence University. Ryan is currently  assigned to a legal office at Fort George G. Meade.  His prior assignments include: U.S. Fleet Cyber Command/U.S. TENTH Fleet; Office of the Judge Advocate General Code 18 (Intelligence, Cyber, and Information Operations Law); Command Judge Advocate, USS EMORY S. LAND (AS 39); Policy Advisor, U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Undersecretary of Defense for Policy (Oceans Policy); Defense Counsel, Defense Service Office North in DC; and Trial Counsel, Legal Assistance Attorney, and Command Services Attorney at Region Legal Services Attorney at Region Legal Service Office Naval District Washington in Washington, DC.  During law school Ryan interned with the Sierra Leone Mission to the UN in NY. Prior to law school, Ryan had a career as a university administrator for eight years. From 2003-2007 he was the CDE for Weinstein Hall at NYU. From 1999-2003 he was he was an Area Director.
Born and raised in Staten Island, NY.   Jonathan Graf is a life-long New Yorker and graduate of the New York City public school system.  He attended NYU undergrad where he obtained a computer science degree and graduated in class of 2004.  As a technology professional he worked for brands such as Citigroup, HBO and Macmillan.  He was on the technical team that built and launched HBO GO, serving as the Technical Lead for the login module.  In his spare time he has joined community theater groups and has taken language classes in French, Spanish, German and Yiddish.  An avid traveler, he just completed a year long trip around the world where he visited 17 countries.  On this trip, he accepted his 15 year story of documenting his family history is perhaps his purpose in life. 
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