By: Cyril Scruggs
Summer Institute was an “alien concept to me” until I joined the RMASFAA 2017 conference. Most of the participants are saying how it helped them to become efficient Financial Aid Administrators especially those who are newbies. I have a very supportive supervisor (a former Summer Institute student) and after talking to her, she said we could apply for a scholarship. Long story short, I got the scholarship, thanks to KASFAA!!!
I am not from the United States and the conference is in Colorado Springs. I’ve heard it is a beautiful place but also heard that it is bigger than where I live, the biggest city in the USA, Liberal, KS. Just kidding!
So, Colorado Springs, I will be on my own going there, live there for 5 days and learn what I can. A home away from home. I accepted the challenge despite the “what if’s” and I am glad I did.
After 13 years, I am back in the classroom with 2 teachers, Mitzi and Ryan, as well as classmates from different states. On the first session, we were asked to introduce ourselves, which I really like, while the succeeding days are all “serious discussions”. It is very interactive, everyone has a chance to share how their school would deal such a situation. After each session, we were given exercises to test our understanding. Our class was divided into teams and every time we got the correct answer, the team scored! The competition was tight though, our team just stayed on the safe side – the middle. LOL
At the end of the day, our teachers set our expectation on what are we going to do the following day. We have a set schedule for class discussion, breaks and meals, and even morning and evening walks. There is this 1 day where we have an early out to do some activities on our own. Our teachers even asked us what we want to do to make sure that nobody is staying in his/her room alone because he/she has no one to go with. Aside from the learnings, the highlights are knowing that I am NOT alone in my struggles and I have Fin Aid friends who are willing to me help me; making connections, gaining new friends, Minute to Win It game, and the awards night. Oh boy! The head shaking and tissue pulling are hilarious! This reminds me the concept of “work and life balance”.
The place is beautiful! My room view is the mountain, very refreshing! It felt like I was on vacation every time I opened my window.
Looking back, I only have happy memories of the conference even if my brain is swelling with all the information. I am still adjusting to my “old country life” and honestly, I am sad leaving that beautiful place with amazing people. It is all in one – city life and nature, everything is within reach. However, I have a beautiful family waiting for me to come home and a job to do, at my school; I have students to take care of; it is time to apply that knowledge and share it with my colleagues.
I am forever thankful to the Summer Institute for making this available to all the Financial Aid Administrators. To my teachers, Mitzi and Ryan, you have no idea how grateful I am for the knowledge and best practices you have shared and for your effort in making sure that we understood it.
Given a chance, I will come back again and will definitely recommend this to all people in the Financial Aid world or those who are wanting to explore the Financial Aid world. It is one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. Summer Institute rocks!!!