This summer was the first time that I have ever been able to experience Summer Institute through RMASFAA, and I had a great time! I started my journey into financial aid about 6 years ago as a work-study student, and have been working as a counselor for three years. I just recently hit my three-year mark!
Throughout my time, I have been introduced to new information and methods that others adopt to stay productive and efficient and it can be an overwhelming burden when you first begin. Summer Institute has definitely contributed to my overall mindset about this field, and has given me a greater perspective and pride in my role as an administrator.
As soon as SI started, I knew it was a great place to be for professional growth. It has been a little while since I had to sit in a classroom, and everyone in my group had varying years of experience and certain specializations at their institutions. Throughout the week, I had great instruction from James and Susan, and they were very thorough in presenting the information to help us understand it on a deeper level. My teammates and coaches helped me to understand a lot during the week. I know I am a super curious person, but I felt super comfortable asking questions and being able to discuss information that I wanted a greater understanding of. I may be biased, but I feel that I was on one of the best teams as a Decathlete!
In my group, many critical thinking activities helped us to see outside of the box, or connect to situations that are not as common. I definitely came away with info that got me excited to share it with my institution, and inspired me to do research to prepare for the future.
The professional development opportunities at RMASFAA are extremely abundant as well. Everyone has a mentality that makes you want to be a part of something bigger in the financial aid community. Whether that be through a position or volunteerism is completely up to the individual, but the opportunities are present. The environment is definitely somewhere a growing FAA in the field would want to be to become better at their role.
To be real, I thought Summer Institute was just a great time. I had a personal best of knocking down 10 bottles in about 18 seconds with a stocking wrapped around my head, and I won’t lie that I felt a little competitive with it! Aside from the games, which were awesome, I was also able to network with so many people, and I felt like I was trying to be everybody’s friend! There are many people in RMASFAA that I would consider a mentor or resource, and it is great to be able to rely on people who have similar interests. When Thursday ended, I was a little sad since I was having a great time, but I look forward to being involved more in the future!
When I began in Financial Aid, it was the first step into my professional career. I was brand new to this world coming from a different background where socioeconomic issues are real, and at times I was unsure if financial aid was the best fit for my since I wanted to make the big bucks and be on the quick track to success. However, the more I consider my values and the role I assume, the more I realize I love what I do and that there are still opportunities to grow! SI has definitely reinforced that passion for me, and I continually look forward to the future in Financial Aid.
I sincerely thank the Diversity and Inclusion Committee for selecting me as a candidate for the scholarship, and I am extremely grateful for the knowledge and connections I was able to gain from the experience!
P.S. I bleed plaid.
Southern Utah University