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?
Does 8 years make me a seasoned veteran? The thing in this profession that has impacted me most is the camaraderie found amongst our peers. My cousin asked me the other day if it was difficult for me to buy a FHSU Tigers blanket for one of her kids’ graduation present. It took me a minute to realize that she meant because they are a big ESU rival. That thought had never struck me, as I asked Robyn to pick it up and bring it to the KASFAA conference.
As I have spent a majority of my FAA time in the loan world, I would say that SULA has caused the biggest change for me within the profession. First there was the challenge of being able to discuss MEP, SUP, and REP. It also caused us to change processes in many areas. Yay for originations going from a 2-step process to a 16-step process (a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the point)!
What and/or who placed you in the financial aid industry? Was this your career path?
Ten years ago, I had a Lupus flare (and received diagnosis) that knocked me off my original career path, which was management in the textbook industry. Spending the next two years looking for a job that I could do physically was a challenge and delivered quite a blow to my self-esteem. One evening I ran in to Donna Hanson outside Bobby D’s and in conversation she mentioned that their office was hiring. I went home to look up the job and found that it was closing that night. Obviously I applied. My best friend had worked for Elaine in college, so I had a connection there. The rest, as you say, is history.
How would you tell new people within this profession to approach their tasks, jobs and career?
With patience (anyone who knows me just laughed really hard at that!!)Seriously though, having spent more than 20 years in the service industry, you have to learn to never take anything personally. Oftentimes people are lashing out because they are having a bad day, are frustrated, or just don’t understand; and they may not have the skills to cope. You just happen to be in the line of fire when they finally break. Some people will just always be hostile, but if you treat them with respect and patience, most will come around to appreciative.
Also, we are all constantly and continually learning in this profession. Give yourself grace that it will take time to learn it all. You will never learn it all, as once you are close, they’ll change it all up!
(Who is still laughing that I suggested patience?)
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 was blessed to be part of Leadership Pipeline Class of 2016-2017. My mentor was Peg Mason from Colorado School of Mines. She was a great sounding board, and gave great advice for getting involved with association work and how to balance that with work-life.
Connie Corcoran suggested I start a “Smiles” folder to store emails and notes in from appreciative people so that I could go back and reference it on the worst days. Elaine Henrie was very encouraging to everyone in our office to participate in the associations, and through this I have gained valuable friends and mentors. Three that come to mind that really encouraged me to keep going, especially in KASFAA were Tony Lubbers, Deb Byers, and Stephanie Covington.
How do you see this profession in 5 years? 10 years?
I tend to live in the moment, and rarely set life goals. I also don’t possess a crystal ball. I can honestly say I have no idea what the profession will look like in the future. Based upon what we’re currently seeing in Washington, I expect that it will either still look the same (how many years behind on reauthorization are we now?), or will have been dramatically overhauled and we’ll talk about “how things used to be in 2019.”
How do you pass the time, when/if there is a lull?
Facebook *hangs head in shame*
Oh wait, are we talking about at work? I would never Facebook at work!! 😉 I do get up and take a walk, which is sometimes needed even if there isn’t a lull.
Who do you admire most? Personally, professionally, and/or globally? Choose one or answer all three…
Sara Vancil. She is open and honest. She has done a great job leading KASFAA. She is saving the world one plastic item at a time by setting an example and providing solid research. She is making sure that Tessa has educational and wonderful experiences to be a well-rounded member of society.
What do you dislike doing? Professionally or personally or both?
Cleaning. Number 1 worst task in the world. Deep hatred my entire life. The end result is nice, but it doesn’t last.
What do you like to do in your free time, either Indoors or Outdoors?
I rediscovered my love of reading a few years ago when I joined a book club that meets at the pub. I prefer mostly non-fiction, though I do read chick lit, British chick lit, and some fantasy. You can find me on Goodreads under Dj or using my gmail darcyjjohnson.
I also enjoy walking, yoga and hanging with the cat.
What gets you excited about life?
Abby. I mean who would not be excited by this 14 year old mess?
What’s your favorite time of day?
Have you seen me? It’s mealtime, duh! 😉
Also, bedtime when Abby curls up on my legs.
Anything exciting you’d like to share….
One of my friends (since age 5) and I are going to road trip to South Dakota in July to celebrate our 40th birthdays this month. Did you know that South Dakota was the 40th state to join the union?