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 would say what has changed most is the slow transition from manual and paper processes to automated and electronic processes. I’m a firm believer in automation so that we can spend more time helping students, doing outreach, and solving problems.
How would you tell new people within this profession to approach their tasks, jobs and career?
You can be a leader at ANY level. It doesn’t matter if you work at a front desk or you’re a director. Find an opportunity to lead within your position. Also, you will NEVER be caught up, so take the time you need to work on important tasks, and most importantly take time off.
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?
Far too many. Everyone in the KU Financial Aid Office & JCCC Financial Aid Office, and especially all of the Graduate Higher Ed interns I mentored and my Work-Study students. I learned A LOT from our students. Special shout out to the original counselor group: Jenny Hagen-Gay, Josė Trujillo, and Elizabeth Mendoza.
Who do you admire most? Personally, professionally, and/or globally? Choose one or answer all three…
Ernest Shackleton. He was a polar explorer in the early 1900’s, and his leadership style is still being taught today. He led a crew of 28 in what was supposed to be the first attempt of crossing Antarctica on foot (The race to the South Pole had already been won). Their ship (the Endurance) was crushed in an ice floe off the coast of Antarctica. The crew had to drag life boats across the ice and float helplessly on ice floes for hundreds of miles. They managed to find land and set up camp on an island only to realize that they were on a section of the continent where they would never be rescued because ships would never pass by this area. So he did the only thing he could do. He handpicked a crew to take a perilous open boat journey (in a teeny-tiny lifeboat) almost 1,000 miles to a blip of an island – South Georgia Islands. He picked this small crew incredibly strategically. There were some trouble makers in the group, so they were some of the 5 men chosen to go on the boat journey so they could not stir up trouble at the camp. He left his second mate in charge of the Elephant Island camp and bid adieu to the men left on the island. The men spent 17 days in the roughest sea in the world in an open life boat…in the freezing cold, traversing almost 1000 miles. He and the 5 men made it to their destination – South Georgia Island, only to find they were on the wrong side of the island. They then had to cross an entire mountain range that ran down the middle of the island to get to the whaling station on the other side. It took almost 2 years and 3 attempts to rescue his men from Elephant Island, but he did, and not one man lost his life. It’s an incredible story of perseverance, heroism, and leadership.
What positions have you held with KASFAA and what has been your favorite so far?
I started off as Welcome Committee Chair (which is now part of Membership). I served on Outreach Training for many years, chairing it one year. I am currently KASFAA Secretary. Definitely Outreach Training. I love training others on financial aid.
Anything exciting you’d like to share….
I do a financial aid night at my High School (Abilene, KS) EVERY year, no matter how busy I am. I love going back and helping students and families complete the FAFSA.
Last but by no means least …
Mr. Liam the cat with his stylish jean jacket.