Fall 2021 Professional Development Training

KASFAA’s Professional Development Committee works hard every year to provide us with quality training opportunities, often at reduced costs. 

This year’s fall training will be a NASFAA presentation on R2T4s and will take place Tuesday, October 19th at 10:00am via ZOOM.  More information regarding registration will be released soon.  Keep an eye on our Professional Development Training webpage under “Events” for details as the training gets closer.

Don’t forget to thank the committee members who put together this event together for us!  Hope to see you all (via ZOOM) on October 19th!

Meet the Board Member – Crystal DeLong – Associate Member Representative

As a seasoned veteran within the financial aid industry, what has impacted you the most about this profession and what has changed the most within the profession?

So I moved to the lender side 2.5 years ago but spent the 18 years prior working in financial aid offices (starting at FHSU).  A LOT has changed in that time but I would tell you the 2 most impactful things that kept me in the aid office and have me still working in the industry are as follows:

  1. YOU!  These professional organizations have been a second family over the years and I have laughed, cried, vented, learned and stuck around because of all the fun.  KASFAA and other associations helped me learn my passion and gave me a support group to get through all the changes and challenging times.
  2. STUDENTS!  Helping students and parents see there is a way.  Helping them accomplish their goals and follow their dreams.  Seeing the excitement and energy on the 1st week of school and at graduation ceremonies literally brings tears to my eyes!  We really do make a difference!!!!

How would you tell new people within this profession to approach their tasks, jobs and career?

With compassion, empathy, a smile and lots of practice at taking deep breaths!  J  This world is soooooooo rewarding but also so challenging.  It’s almost a guarantee that you will get frustrated at some point and feel overwhelmed but in the words of Dory, “Just Keep Swimming”!  You are a world changer now and don’t take it lightly the impact your work has on future generations.

Within this industry have you had any mentors, who were they if you’d like to say, and what did they tell you as you were beginning your career path in Financial Aid?

Craig Karlin at Fort Hays State University was my first boss.  He dealt with my immaturity of being a 22 year old working at my alma mater, he taught me how to network by introducing me to some of the best people in the KASFAA and RMASFAA regions.  He showed me how to stay calm in the fires of financial aid.  And most importantly he showed me what it was to be a great boss and when I was a Director I think a lot of my management style was a direct reflection of him!!  Thanks Craig!

AND the one and only infamous Brenda Hicks…..Let’s just say she was on speed dial when I started as a Director at a small private University in MO at the age of 27!  I don’t think she realizes how much I appreciate all of the quick calls and emails that helped me figure out how to be a Director and how to master PowerFaids!!!  THANKS BRENDA!!! 

Who do you admire most? Personally, professionally, and/or globally?

I admire soooo many people personally and professionally.  It’s really hard for me to pick just one.  But I will tell you that I lost an uncle to covid this past year who was one of the hardest working people I’ve ever met.  He was a hard headed, God-loving, strong willed, stubborn goofball and I didn’t realize just how much I truly admired him until he wasn’t here with us anymore.  RIP Uncle Paul, you are a legend in my eyes!

What positions have you held with KASFAA and what has been your favorite so far?

That’s a great question!  I was in KASFAA from 2005-2010 and can’t remember what I did on the board or committees back then exactly.  But I have recently been the Corporate Support Chair and Associate Delegate.  I’ve served on KASFAA, RMASFAA, MASFAP, and MASFAA in a variety of roles every year I’ve been in the industry and I don’t plan on stopping!!!  Oh, and I’m currently Summer Institute Chair for RMASFAA for 2022!!!  Hope to see you there! 😉

Anything exciting you’d like to share….

I LOVE this career!  And I love sharing my favorite little man on many of our KASFAA zoom calls.  My 19 month old Tate is my #1 man these days (don’t tell my husband!) and he brings a smile to my face every day!

Meet the Board Member – Laura Weiss-Cook – President-Elect

Within this industry have you had any mentors, who were they if you’d like to say, and what did they tell you as you were beginning your career path in Financial Aid?

I have learned so much from so many people – I wouldn’t be able to name them all. Many of them stressed the fact that you cannot possibly know everything about everything and to use the resources and training available.

What positions have you held with KASFAA and what has been your favorite so far?

Previously, the only position I have held within KASFAA was co-chair of the Membership Committee. I loved serving with that team and was really excited by my teammates’ work with mentorship. I am continually impressed with our profession’s commitment to grow and strengthen our members.

What are some of your favorite things to do outside of work and KASFAA?

Most of my time outside of work and KASFAA is spent literally chasing my 16-year-old daughter, Audrey, through fields to cheer her on at cross country meets. Thank goodness parents can cut across the fields/parks or I would NEVER keep up. We also own a fair trade boutique that promotes ethical and sustainable products. As a result, I spend many evenings and Saturdays doing administrative work for the store. My husband, Kevin, and I love to attend concerts and the theater together and play with our 14-month-old Bernedoodle, Eliza (named after female characters in two different musicals). The photo is a family photoshoot outtake because sometimes life (and work with students) is messy and not at all how we planned.

Meet the Board Member – Darcy Johnson – Past-President

What made you want to get involved with KASFAA?

The people. When I started in financial aid, almost all of my coworkers were very involved in KASFAA and I could sense their passion for the committees they were serving on. At my first KASFAA conference a co-worker, Thad Davidson, received the Outstanding Service Award and as I recall, there wasn’t a dry eye at our table. Our director at the time, Elaine Henrie, made sure to introduce me to as many people as she could, and I felt so welcomed. I also witnessed everyone happy to see each other and catch up. When an organization can evoke that sense of belonging, I wanted to be a part of it…plus I like hugs! I thoroughly enjoyed the creativity of the awards committee that year, and I knew that’s where I belonged, so I signed up immediately and three years later I was chairing that committee.

How would you tell new people within this profession to approach their tasks, jobs and career?

Take a breath, find humor as often as you can, you’ll never know everything, and you’ll need to tap in to your patient side. (August might not be the best time for me to answer this question. Ha ha!) Honestly, I would tell them to be prepared for the biggest learning curve of their life, but to hang in there because it is worth it to see the success of the students we helped get there. Start a SMILES folder to keep kudos (the good job kind, not the chocolate kind) in. On those really rough days go back and read through the times that people recognized you and appreciated you. (Shoutout to Connie Corcoran for that idea…I’ve used it lots over the years!) Make connections with your peers in KASFAA…the network we have is invaluable.

What are some of your favorite memories of past years being in the KASFAA organization?

Well one of my favorite memories I shared in the first answer. Getting to go to DC for the Leadership and Legislative Expo was an amazing experience. Receiving a SI scholarship was a great memory. The people, the learning, and the experiences are what make all of the memories standout.

Who do you admire most? Personally, professionally, and/or globally?

I admire all members of KASFAA. We’ve had a rough couple years (who else thinks 2021 was worse than 2020?), but we stay committed (Literally? Figuratively? Take your pick J) and continue persevering to do what we do best: help the students succeed. Keep on keeping on. I believe in each of you and we’re here for each other!

Anything exciting you’d like to share….

I finished a 1000 piece puzzle I started two weeks ago. That is the extent of excitement in my life at the moment.  😊

Here are some photos of cat lady progression 😝

Diana’s Virtual trip to NASFAA

As many of us know, this year’s NASFAA Conference was a little different with members participating in its first virtual version of the event.  Our own KASFAA Commander-in-Chief, Diana VanDyke, had an even more unique experience with the annual conference and has taken the time to share her perspective with us.  Read on to hear our President’s takeaways from the conference in her own words:

I was able to attend most of the NASFAA On-line Virtual Conference while I was also competing at Pinto World in Tulsa, OK.  Many of the sessions I attended in the stall barn sitting in front of the horse stalls.  Dream Racer was bored with the entire process but Cookie Monster was fascinated with the voices coming out of the box in my lap! 

I was able to sit in on Working to Eliminate Bias in Aid Administration, How Campuses Are Changing Post-Pandemic, The Intersection of Financial Aid & Financial Wellness Education, NSLDS Reporting & the National Student Clearinghouse, Effective Communication Tools in Critical Conversations, Pell for Incarcerated Students, Competency-Based Education: What’s Best For Your Institution, Ensuring Equity & Access Across All Underserved Student Profiles, Department of Ed Session & 20-21 Reflections, and Passing the Gavel & Where We’re Headed on Public Policy.

As an overall overview of the sessions I can say I was able to pick up a few ideas from the presenters and felt strongly that a lot of the presented material that was already implemented was already being handled correctly at our institutions.  Competency Based Education definitely brought on a groan. I felt like I would need more clarifying information BUT I was not able to stay for the Q & A on this one.  I would strongly encourage anyone that will possibly be dealing with incarcerated students to check out that recording of the Pell for Incarcerated Student session.  I felt like the presenters were able to clarify some of the ideas that I had felt fuzzy on prior to the session.  Not something that I would be dealing with very much on my campus so it may be redundant to someone that is already prepared in this area.  I agreed with many of the concepts in Post-Pandemic, Communication Tools, and the equity discussions but feel that our campuses are already handling these issues adequately. 

I appreciated the opportunity to attend the conference and even though the change in venue and dates made it a bit challenging, I am glad I was able to attend the sessions.  I really enjoyed the Tuesday night entertainment with Felix and Fingers Dueling Pianos and wish that was something we could bring to our conference.  We may have to look into that and see if it is in the budget!

There are so many sessions to check out, it’s near impossible to catch them all.  Luckily for us, recordings of the original sessions are currently available to all registered attendees so you can sit in on the topics that you may have missed the first time around: https://www.nasfaa.org/conference

While we are still facing some unknowns in regards to the in-person vs. virtual future of our beloved conferences and events, it is reassuring to know that NASFAA’s content was as enlightening as usual despite the circumstances and that us Financial Aid Administrators are still a fun bunch!  I’m sure we are all hopeful that next June we can congregate again in Austin, Texas for the 2022 NASFAA Conference.

Courtney Stensaas

Meet the Board Member – Angela Zeorlin – Treasurer

What made you want to get involved with KASFAA?

At the time I gained membership onto KASFAA, WSU staff had a strong presence in the organization. I credit our Director, Deb Byers, for that 😊 She encouraged involvement and I could see the relationships others had built throughout the state as a result. I just assumed it was part of the job, jumped in and have been reaping the benefits ever since.

What positions have you held with KASFAA and what has been your favorite so far?

I started on the Training Committee where I served multiple times; Chaired the Membership & Archives Committees, served on the Welcome Committee & Conference Planning, was elected Treasurer-Elect & am now Treasurer.

I would have to say my favorite was Training. Back then, we traveled throughout selected regions with our team of three to present to High School Counselors, TRIO advisors and anyone else in the communities who needed to be up-to-date on all the new things coming down from DoEd each year. My first year, I had the pleasure of traveling with Brenda Hicks and have been in awe of her ever since.

As a seasoned veteran within the financial aid industry, what has impacted you the most about this profession and what has changed the most within the profession?

I think the most impactful thing about our profession is seeing those students who struggle reach graduation & hearing about the great job they landed as a result. Many of them express that never could have happened without financial aid.

It’s hard to say what has changed to most; changes seem to happen every day. I have seen efforts to remove some of the barriers some students have to break through and efforts to put them back in place. It shouldn’t be this hard to get an education! Especially when decent jobs now days require it.

Within this industry have you had any mentors, who were they, if you’d like to say, and what did they tell you as you were beginning your career path in Financial Aid?

I’ve been blessed with great mentors throughout my FinAid career: Deb Byers, Sheelu Surender, Donna Carter, Robyn Bongartz & Joe Donlay all at WSU. Brenda Hicks, Myra Pfannenstiel, Lois Madsen, Tony Tanking, Cindy Kleinsorge, Debbie Brewer and SOOOOOO many more.

Most of their advice consists of “Be involved, your connections will be lifelong. Always be open to learn new things & go outside your comfort zone to grow. Lead by example.”

Who do you admire most? Personally, professionally, and/or globally? Choose one or answer all three…

  • Personally – my parents & my boys. Their courage & strength continue to amaze me on a daily basis.
    • Professionally – please refer to the previous questions about mentors 😊
    • Globally – all those who are striving to bring people together instead of forcing them apart. Those who have sacrificed, or are currently sacrificing, to improve the world for those who follow. People who put others first; there is too much selfishness in the world today.

What do you like to do when you’re not at work?

Curl up with my fur-babies and binge ID shows on Discover+ in the dark.

Is there anything else you’d like KASFAA members to know about you?

I may seem like an extrovert but I’m really not; I’m shy if I don’t know you but, since I consider everyone in KASFAA a friend, it’s easier for me to open up. Remember the “outside your comfort zone” thing 😉

Meet the Board Member – Leah Nicholson – Treasurer-Elect

What made you want to get involved with KASFAA?

I wanted to connect with other professionals in the state and learn how others are approaching things at their schools.

What positions have you held with KASFAA and what has been your favorite so far?

I currently hold the position of treasurer elect – it is the first position I have held in KASFAA. But I have served on some of the committees as well and really love committee work.

Please share a funny moment or memory you have from a KASFAA conference or while volunteering for KASFAA.

What’s funny is that the first and only KASFAA conference I ever presented at, I couldn’t fully attend (due to time and budget constraints at the time). So the only KASFAA conference I’ve actually been able to attend in full is the one we just had online! I’m thinking that will change now that I’m on the board 😊

As a seasoned veteran within the financial aid industry, what has impacted you the most about this profession and what has changed the most within the profession?

I think the biggest thing that has impacted me is learning from other schools and realizing the flexibility and change that we can have within federal regulations. As a new professional you think the way it is is always the way it is – but you learn later that there is flexibility and different approaches to policy and regulations. I think we are also on the precipice of major change – many are realizing that aid programs and regulations need to change to benefit students in a greater way; I think we are about to see many positive changes that will help more individuals be able to afford college.

Within this industry have you had any mentors, who were they, if you’d like to say, and what did they tell you as you were beginning your career path in Financial Aid?

One of my mentors is Angela Karlin (she also happens to be my current director). I think one of the best things that she reminds me of everyday is that I shouldn’t be afraid to share my ideas.

Who do you admire most? Personally, professionally, and/or globally? Choose one or answer all three…

Honestly, and this may be a cliché answer, but my biggest role model is my mother. She is a military wife, and had to put her personal/career goals on hold for a good amount of time because we moved all over the world for my dad’s career in the military, and she took care of me and my sister. But now she is rocking her professional life, and has achieved more in half of a career than most do in a full career. She is so good at what she does, and she has great relationships with everyone she works with. I strive to be great at my job and build good working relationships because I’ve seen that is how you get the best things done from watching her.

What do you like to do when you’re not at work?

I’m a big fan of going out to KC wine co with my husband and dog. I also love to do puzzles, craft, and binge watch shows in the evenings. I’m really good at making string art, wreaths, knitting, and more!

Is there anything else you’d like KASFAA members to know about you?

You can call me Leah from Korea – that is where I went to high school before I moved to Kansas for college/life.

Two More Certified Financial Aid Administrators®

KASAA wishes to congratulate our newest FAAC®:

Myrna Perkins from Barton Community College (BCC)

Tammy Reece from Kansas City KS Community College (KCKCC)

These ladies join 253 other individuals across the nation to have earned this designation. With their designation, KASFAA is leading the RMASFAA region with 15 out of 27. Kansas aid professionals continue to set the bar for professionalism and dedication to our students. Congrats ladies!

NASFAA created this program that:

  • Advances and elevates the profession
  • Inspires quality job performance
  • Creates a competitive edge

We work diligently to protect the integrity of student aid programs. This certification program recognizes the integral role we play in our educational institution’s overall success while providing credibility to help us get ahead with the designation.

What’s Your Passion?

volunteers-needed

KASFAA runs solely on volunteer power, and we appreciate our volunteers so much. We are still in need of 30 volunteers for the 2021-2022 year (runs from now until the beginning of April 2022). We would love to have you join us this year. Please look over the committees below, then go to the KASFAA Volunteer page, read the Volunteer Guide if you have more questions, and then complete the volunteer form!

Do you have a passion for documenting and preserving history? How about making sure things stay organized? ARCHIVE is for you! 

Is your passion marketing, networking, and philanthropy? Choose CORPORATE SUPPORT to network with Associate Members and help plan the philantrophy project for the Spring 2022 conference!

Do you have a passion for helping or training your peers? PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT is your jam (and a great fit for content developers and instructional designers)!  

Are you passionate about web design? Do you have experience with HTML coding? Want to create instructional videos? ELECTRONIC RESOURCES wants YOU!!!

Is your passion welcoming new people, assisting in keeping a clean database, or facilitating mentorship? Choose MEMBERSHIP!

Are you a social media junky? Do you have a passion for interviewing others and writing blog posts? Like to create YouTube videos? You would be perfect for ASSOCIATION NEWS & PUBLICITY!

Do you have a passion for teaching and sharing financial aid information with our college prep partners? Like to help plan and organize events? Have ideas for innovative content delivery? You want to be on OUTREACH TRAINING!

Are you a party planner? Opportunities to help plan the conference program, design the decorations, secure entertainment, and more. Join CONFERENCE PLANNING to help plan and execute the Spring 2022 conference to be held in Wichita! 

Have questions? Reach out to Darcy Johnson, Diana VanDyke, or the chair of the committee(s) you’re interested in. 

Written by Darcy Johnson

KASFAA Spring Conference Award Winner – KASFAA Rising Star Award

KASFAA Rising Star Award

provides recognition to an individual member with fewer than 5 years of experience in KASFAA who shows promise for future contributions to the association or the financial aid profession. This individual has demonstrated quality performance through their passion for their work while exemplifying the professionalism and dedication to the mission of KASFAA.

April Sidesinger

Washburn University Assistant Director of Financial Aid – Washburn Institute of Technology

Conference Planning

Congratulations April!!! What an amazing year!

Click here to watch the Awards Ceremony