Life as a Resident Assistant at Sancta Sophia College

By Amy Lalor (Fresher 2023)

Home. It’s usually thought of as the place where one lives, especially as a member of a family or household. But what does it actually mean to feel at home? Is it possible to feel at home when you’re not with your family or in a typical household?

From the moment I first stepped through the doors at Sancta Sophia College, there was a feeling of being at home. It was an intangible feeling – one that was difficult to put into words – and it was even more difficult to grasp precisely what had, almost instantly, made Sancta feel like my own home away from home.

Having now spent a little over a year at Sancta, I think I can make a bit of a guess at why this place feels like a home to me, and so many other residents. It’s the people.

When I talk about the people at Sancta, I refer not only to the friendships that I have made or the support that I have received from the staff team, but also the Resident Assistants (known as RAs). As a recent addition to the RA team this year, I now know a little more about what goes into making Sancta feel not just like a place to live and study, but a place where one can feel at home.

Sancta students pose for a group photo in the College Quadrangle
Amy (Right) and her RA colleagues welcoming new students at Commencement 2024.


What does it entail to be an RA?

There isn’t really a typical day for an RA at Sancta. From acting as the fire warden in emergency evacuations to being a safe and friendly face on a night out, RAs take on a multitude of roles. We are trained in emergency procedures, first aid, mental health, and College operations, and provide both pastoral care and academic support to the 15-20 students in our RA groups.

With all the training that I received, something that has really stuck with me was a returning RA describing the role as being a big sister. I think of a big sister as someone who I could turn to after a rough day or even when I just wanted to have a chat; someone who understood what I was going through and could give me advice, but not the kind of advice that my mum would give; someone who I could trust and someone who I could be comfortable to be myself around. This is exactly the kind of role that I strive to play as an RA.

Amy (Second from left) with her on-duty RA colleagues at a 2024 Welcome Week event.


What are the most rewarding aspects of being an RA?

One of the most fulfilling parts of being an RA is the opportunity to contribute to making Sancta a more comfortable and welcoming environment for everyone. By helping others settle into life at College, I have bolstered my own sense of belonging, and I’ve made so many more friends and connections. I have also had the opportunity to meet many of the new residents, particularly during Welcome Week, and through spending time getting to know my own RA group.

Sancta Undergrad Student Leaders and Resident Assistants pose for a photo in the College Quadrangle
Sancta’s 2024 Undergraduate Student Leaders and Resident Assistants During Welcome Week.


And the challenges?

At times, it can be a little bit difficult to juggle my university, personal and RA commitments. However, I am lucky to be a part of an understanding team of residents and staff who ensure that I am never alone in navigating my RA responsibilities, and who I know are there to support me the best they can.

Although I still can’t quite describe the feeling of being at Sancta, I know that so much goes into making Sancta feel like a welcoming home – one where everyone can feel comfortable and share a sense of belonging. The RA team are just one of the ways that Sancta works to achieve this, and I encourage everyone to get involved with the initiatives and activities run by their RA. Take this as a little reminder to have a chat with your RA because ultimately, we want to ensure that Sancta feels like a home away from home for each resident.


Learn more about Sancta’s Pastoral Care and Resident Assistant Program