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October 27, 2014


I certainly hope everyone enjoyed themselves in Snowbird, Utah and trust the conference provided multiple learning opportunities, as well as the ability to network with others in our field.

It has been a pleasure to serve as the Association News Chair this past year. On behalf of the Association News Committee, I also wanted to take this opportunity to express gratitude for the unexpected honor of “Committee of the Year.”  The recognition was certainly a wonderful compliment.

I want to assure you that the blog is in good hands with the new chair of Association News, Sara Vancil. Sara is a rising star and the About the Blog page ( has been updated with her information for future blog submissions.

As always, Association News encourages feedback about all things RMASFAA – should you have any photos, blog ideas or newsworthy information you would like to share, please feel free to contact Sara.

Thanks again for a great year!

All the best,

Laurie Rodriguez

Happy National Financial Aid Day!

October 15, 2014

Falling on the third Wednesday of every October (October 15th for 2014), National Financial Aid Day is a day that is set aside to recognize and celebrate the contributions, commitment and accomplishments of financial aid professionals across the United States for helping students realize their dream of attaining a college education.

You are encouraged to do something special in an effort to celebrate National Financial Aid Day today.  Throw a party, go to lunch, host a potluck, make a toast – remember the students whose lives you’ve touched by doing what you do!

Today, we honor you!

Thank you for all you do to assist students!

RMASFAA 2014 is almost here!

October 14, 2014

We hope you’re ready to enjoy the cool mountain air, learn and network with your colleagues.

The final agenda and session descriptions are up on the website:

Make sure to take a look and make note of the classes you’re going to attend!

See you at Snowbird!

RMASFAA 2014 Conference Publicity Committee

Requesting nominations for the Oscar R. ‘Jack’ Hendrix Award

October 2, 2014

Nominations for the Oscar R. ‘Jack’ Hendrix Award will officially close next Friday, October 10.

Please take a few minutes today and consider whether you know someone who has made a significant first contribution to RMASFAA during the past year. Thus far, I have only received one lonely recommendation! (Although this admittedly makes the choice easier for the Board of Directors, I know that there are many deserving recipients throughout the region who have provided exceptional service to our association since last fall’s conference).

Please send your nomination to Be sure to include the individual’s name, title, institution or agency, and why you feel that he or she is deserving of this recognition.

Thanks in advance for your help in identifying and recognizing excellence within RMASFAA. I look forward to seeing you here in Utah later this month!


Oscar R. ‘Jack’ Hendrix Award Spotlight – Kelly Svenkesen

October 2, 2014

K Svenkesen

I was honored to receive the Oscar R. Jack Hendrix Award (“Rookie of the Year”) in 2010.  I remember being completely blown away and in a state of total shock when my name was announced!  It really meant, and still means, a great deal to me to be recognized by my fellow colleagues in RMASFAA.  At the time I remember thinking, I was just doing what then RMASFAA President Sharon Kienow charged me to do!

RMASFAA brings such opportunity to its members.  I was fortunate to be a mentee during the very first RMASFAA Leadership Pipeline.  I learned such a great deal from my mentor, Terry Stephens, and I am forever grateful to her as my mentor and friend.  I would encourage everyone out there to take a chance and go through the pipeline, attend summer institute or join a committee.  It gives you amazing experience and you meet so many FABULOUS people!

My experiences in RMASFAA have included being on the membership committee, vice-chair of the membership committee (soon to be chair), vice-chair of the training committee, chair of the training committee, conference planning committee and summer institute entertainment vice-chair and chair.  My most valuable experience though, is the friends I’ve made who have provided me with their wisdom and their laughter during the tough times!

I started working in financial aid as many of us do, as a work study.  After graduating from school I worked for a couple years for a veterinarian, but as soon as a position opened in the financial aid office I immediately applied.  I spent 11 years at Laramie County Community College, until a couple of years ago when I moved to Fort Collins, Colorado where I am now working for Front Range Community College.  For the past two years I’ve been overseeing the scholarships and loan program, and in 2 weeks I will be overseeing the service center.  I’m so extremely grateful for all the opportunities various people have given me over the years.  It is my fellow financial aid friends that have kept me going in this crazy career!

RMASFAA Conference Philanthropy Project

September 30, 2014

We’re looking forward to seeing you in a few weeks in Utah. We wanted to give you a reminder about the philanthropy project this year. The project this year will be a silent auction to raise money for the Christmas Box House. Take a couple minutes to watch this short video and find out more about what they do:

We are accepting donations of goods and services to be auctioned during the conference. Items that have been successful in the past include school packs, favorite school/professional team memorabilia, artwork from students/staff/faculty, and gift baskets.

If you have any questions, please contact Michelle Riddle ( or Dave Hughes (

Oscar R. ‘Jack’ Hendrix Award spotlight – Joe Donlay

September 23, 2014
Joe was the co-recipient of the Oscar R. 'Jack' Hendrix Award in 2009.

Like most of my colleagues, it seems, I fell into financial aid completely unintentionally.  Based on some of my student ambassador experiences while attending Fort Hays State University and my brand-new marketing degree, I actively sought an admissions position after college graduation.  Somehow, that resulted in my stumbling across a position announcement for a Financial Aid Counselor at Southwestern College, in Winfield, KS.  Brenda Hicks brought me in for an interview, and fortunately for me, she decided to take a chance on a fresh-out-of-college kid who knew ZIP about financial aid.  I hope she still feels like that was a good decision…

I spent about two years at Southwestern, during which time I was able to attend my first RMASFAA conferences and my first Summer Institute.  I then received an offer from Deb Byers for the Assistant Director for Systems position in Wichita State University’s Office of Financial Aid.  After nearly 7 years at WSU, a fantastic opportunity came along to work for Colorado State University as Associate Director for Operations.  I relocated to the Fort Collins area, confirmed shortly after that I had joined the BEST new work-family ever at CSU and have more than enjoyed every second of it.

While at WSU, Deb always encouraged my involvement with our state and regional professional associations – and when the incoming KASFAA President (and one of my own Summer Institute instructors) Kelly Hoggatt, called to ask if I would serve on her state board as a committee chair, I jumped at the chance.  Those KASFAA opportunities opened many doors for me at the regional and national level.  I found myself serving in my first committee chair position with RMASFAA as Electronic Initiatives Chair in 2008 and having had the special privilege of being part of the very first Leadership Pipeline class with the one-and-only Sally Schuman as my mentor.  In 2009, I was honored with the O.R. “Jack” Hendrix award at the RMASFAA conference in Kansas City.  All of this resulted in my being quickly brought into the fold of RMASFAA and I’ve been able to volunteer on committees in a variety of capacities, including having been elected Vice President and serving as Summer Institute Chair.  In 2012, I was asked to chair NASFAA’s Technology Initiatives committee and had a wonderful experience during Ron Day’s tenure as national chair. This summer, I was humbled (and shocked!) to have been elected as the incoming RMASFAA President-Elect.  I am beyond excited for this challenge and look forward to working on behalf of our association in this role.

I cannot overstate just how important it is to be involved in professional networks and organizations, particularly for financial aid administrators.  Engagement within our state associations, RMASFAA, and NASFAA, and the unique training and advocacy mission of each is what makes our line of work so much more than just a “job”; ours truly is a profession and we owe it to our students, our campuses, and ourselves to connect with the incredible people and resources around us.  Attend a RMASFAA conference, go to Summer Institute, volunteer for a committee – or run for an office… and don’t be afraid to reach out and say “I want to be involved!”  As someone who owes much of his career to the friendships and experiences he has been gifted with through this association, I can guarantee that the personal and professional rewards of doing so are tremendous.