By Nichole Carver
It’s that time of year again! What time, you may ask? Well, that would be committee volunteer time! KASFAA wants you for one of the many committee’s that help to serve our members. Go to http://www.kasfaa.org, click on Forms and you will find the 2018-2019 Volunteer Form and right next to it is the Committee Information List that tells you about each of the committees. If you want a more in-depth look, you can check out the Committee Handbooks under the Inside KASFAA tab.
Following up that sales pitch, here is why I volunteer:
I am not a really social person. I get very nervous at the thought of having to introduce myself and interact with people who don’t already know me. Speech was, by far, my least favorite class in school. Anytime I had to stand up in front of a group of people (any size really, it doesn’t matter), I would simply turn red, hope that my notes were in order, and try really hard not to make eye contact. That has not changed a whole lot over the years, but something else has. It started with my receipt of one of the Summer Institute Scholarships a few years ago. I joined the Conference Planning Committee as part of my acceptance of that scholarship. I met several people and learned so much more about our state organization and had an absolute blast. In part it was because of getting to know people who were in my same career field, and getting that comradery and moral support, having go-to in-the-know-people, and learning about a part of our organization that I knew nothing about before-hand all made me want to do it again. I didn’t even have a preference on what committee I landed on, just that I did get involved.
There were actually multiple options where I could simply participate (and that was honestly all that I was looking for) but there was also one that allowed me to be a co-chair. I’ll admit, it seemed very daunting. More than that though, it sounded so exciting! I was terrified thinking about all the ways I could mess this up. Would I be the worst co-chair ever? Probably not. Would I make a mistake that everyone would find out about and never let me live down? Probably. So many negative things that ran through my mind as I contemplated this. Then, I just stopped that train before it got carried away. Thinking negatively almost guarantees a ‘terrible, horrible, no good very bad’ experience for everyone, not just me. I had so much fun the year before, would this different committee be as much fun? The answer was and is yes! I decided I wanted to do it and started trying to figure out how I could do things as co-chair to start amping myself up for what was to come. I jumped in knowing that I was setting a tone for this committee and what I hoped we could accomplish together and in the future.
Following that ramble, fast forward to the day, where as a co-chair and incoming chair I was privileged to sit in on the Board meeting with the outgoing and incoming Board members. I ‘know’ several people here from having seen them in passing at conferences over the years, and maybe interacting with a couple of them in various aspects of my committee involvement, but I don’t really ‘know’ them. Sitting here waiting to start, I listened as several individuals got caught up since the last time they spoke either relating to professional situations they were dealing with or personal stuff, in addition to the pieces of small talk filling time until it was time to get started. I was intimidated. Thoroughly. There was, and is, absolutely no reason for that. These people are so kind, and welcoming, and involving, that nervousness or intimidation are a complete and utter waste of time, energy, and sanity. For anyone who doesn’t know either because you’ve never thought about it, been curious about it, or been a part of it, there is so much careful planning and consideration that goes in to making sure that we have resources to do things that help enrich our ability to excel in our fields and have people that we can go to for questions.
Probably the biggest benefit that I have come away with from participating in one committee, is the confidence to talk to other administrators in the financial aid world whether they were on the committee with me or not. As I stated earlier, I’m a shy, reserved person. If I don’t know you, it is unlikely that I would just randomly come up and start talking about session topics, committee opportunities, an issue I ran into recently, or anything else. I’m not going to say that this has changed. It hasn’t. However, I have managed to find a balance in that, by meeting more aid administrators who have a wealth of knowledge, I know there is someone who gets it and that I can talk to if I run into things I don’t know anything (or very much) about. The amount of stress that that simple concept took away from me, was not something I was entirely prepared for. All it was, was knowing that I had people to email or call when I felt in over my head for any reason. It lifted such a weight while it simultaneously made me feel as though I was gaining the knowledge I need(ed).
Almost done, I promise! Sitting in on my first board meeting, really opened my eyes. It truly does take all of us to make this work. There are so many talents, strengths, and amazing personalities that are working to make sure that we as a state have what we need to be better aid administrators and have a connection with each other that we know we can turn to if we need to.
Please consider joining one of our committees. If you have any questions, you can email or call on any of us fellow KASFAA members. Hope to ‘see’ you soon!