Winter Board Meeting Update


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Good Day RMASFAA!  Your RMASFAA Board has been hard at work for you and we had a very productive Winter Board Meeting in Denver on March 15th and 16th.

Here are some highlights from the meeting:

  • The Board reviewed the current RMASFAA Strategic Long Range Plan (SLRP) to assess how well we have met the goals of the plan. Overall the Board felt many of the goals of the current SLRP have been satisfied, but there is still room for improvement on some goals.  Vicki Kucera reported a wonderful response from the membership regarding the RMASFAA SLRP on-line survey.  Vicki and I will be looking for more input from the membership on ideas for our 2018-2021 SLRP at state conferences.  Our goal is to have our 2018-2021 SLRP in place by the October 2018 RMASFAA Board Meeting.
  • With recommendations from the “Website Ad Hoc Committee” and evaluation of options, the Board voted to approve an upgrade of our website. This includes increasing certificates of security for the website, increasing utilization of website functionality and approval of the purchase of E-Merchant to assist in more efficient use of electronic transactions for members.
  • NASFAA has approached RMASFAA on a proposal to collaborate on some functions such as “Membership”, “Website” and “Events”. There was a very lengthy discussion on the benefits/drawbacks of this collaboration.   The Board voted to continue to discuss this possibility, but felt the impact of this decision so important that member input from the individual RMASFAA states would be requested before any further action.   Vicki and I will be asking for your input at the state conferences.
  • President –Elect Myra Pfannenstiel has been working with the “Nominations and Elections Committee”, along with input from the Board, seeking nominations for the next election ballot.
  • This is the first year for the new Vice President Elect Position. The Vice President Elect also serves as the “Vice-Chair” for the Finance and Audit Committee.   This year there was a major undertaking in evaluating the association budgeting process.  Stephanie Covington, serving as Vice President and Chair of the Finance and Audit Committee, did an extraordinary job in putting in place a comprehensive budgeting process that worked effectively and efficiently.    The Finance and Audit Committee is continuing to fine tune the budget process.
  • The 2018 Conference Committee, chaired by Bethany Vincent and Sherry Bisek, reported plans for the Annual Fall Conference in Fargo October 7-10 are going strong and on schedule. There is added excitement for this year’s conference as RMASFAA is celebrating our 50th  Mark your calendars as you do not want to miss this conference!
  • The Diversity & Multicultural Initiatives Committee chaired by Manuel Gant requested the committee’s name be changed to “The Diversity and Inclusion Committee”. It was felt this name better reflects the scope and purpose of the committee’s work.  The Board agreed and voted to change the name of the committee as requested.
  • Dani Reynolds and the Association News Committee have been busy submitting blogs and updates for the membership. The committee is doing an excellent job of keeping members informed.
  • The Training Committee chaired by Ashlee Dutton, has organized seven training events to assist our members with compliance, professional development and personal growth topics. NASFAA also informed me at the NASFAA Board Meeting last month that they will be providing condensed training webinars for regions to use.  These webinars are expected to be ready this spring.

A big “Thank You” to all the committees, state delegates and officers for all your hard work and dedication to RMASFAA!   This group has provided wonderful insights and leadership and I feel truly blessed to be a part of this Board and Association.  I encourage anyone that has questions on events or topics related to our association to please contact me at kkocer@mtmc.edu.  I would love to hear from you.

All my best,

Ken

Ken Kocer

 

April 13 Deadline Fast Approaching for Proposals!


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Hello RMASFAA:

It is that time of year where the RMASFAA Program Committee is asking our members to submit a proposal to present at the RMASFAA Conference in Fargo, North Dakota.  Please take a few minutes out of your day to complete the program proposal form to either indicate a session you would like to present or would like to see at the upcoming conference.  All completed program proposal forms should be sent back by April 13th 2018 to Jeff Jacobs at the email listed on the form.

Thank you so much for your feedback and ideas!

Jeff Jacobs and Laurie Weber

2018 RMASFAA Conference Program Co-Chairs

RMASFAA 2018 Program Proposal Form

RMASFAA Program Committee Proposals


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Hello RMASFAA:

It is that time of year where the RMASFAA Program Committee is asking our members to submit a proposal to present at the RMASFAA Conference in Fargo, North Dakota.  Please take a few minutes out of your day to complete the program proposal form to either indicate a session you would like to present or would like to see at the upcoming conference.  All completed program proposal forms should be sent back by April 13th 2018 to Jeff Jacobs at the email listed on the form.

Thank you so much for your feedback and ideas!

 Jeff Jacobs and Laurie Weber

2018 RMASFAA Conference Program Co-Chairs

RMASFAA 2018 Program Proposal Form

Leadership Pipeline: Karina Moulton


Please welcome the 2017-2018 Leadership Pipeline class. The nine participants that make up this year’s class will share their experiences about participating in RMASFAA’s renowned professional development program.  It’s time to meet Karina Moulton.

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What is your current position and how long have you worked in financial aid?

I am the Scholarship & Work Study Officer at Helena College University of Montana. This is my 4th year as a professional in the industry, and I have 4 ½ years as a Financial Aid Work Study.

Who is your Leadership Pipeline mentor, and describe your relationship with them?

My mentor is Sara Vancil. She works in Lawrence, Kansas at the University of Kansas. We are freakishly similar in that we are always taking notes, making lists and are very meticulous in everything we do. I don’t know how they match mentors and mentees, but they really hit the nail on the head! Sara has been so wonderful to work with, and I look forward to working with her the rest of the year.

Why did you decide to join Leadership Pipeline?

I am early in my career as a Financial Aid Specialist and am still learning the ropes. I have learned so much from my Director and co-workers but needed something more. During the state and regional conferences, I find myself meeting new people who I can turn to with questions in the future. Everyone is always so helpful, and I thought this program would really give me an advantage. I have never held any type of office and have been curious about getting involved at the state or regional levels. I believe this program can bring me to a more professional level of my career and help me build the confidence to take on a leadership position.

What is the most valuable thing you’ve learned so far?

My mentor, Sara, had me complete a personality test. After reading the results, I realized they were so accurate it was a little scary! I have learned it takes all kinds, and you have to know who you are and how you communicate, in order to work with other types of people in your area. Knowing yourself is the best way to take inventory of what you need to work on to become a leader.

What is it that you are hoping to come away with at the end of the program?

I want to build my confidence level, volunteer at a state or regional level and meet new people. I feel like this will give me more direction in where I want to go in my career as a Financial Aid Specialist.

Why would you recommend the Leadership Pipeline Program to others?

I would recommend this to anyone, at any level. Having a mentor to talk with and discuss not only what is going on in the class but also what may be going on at your institution or in your department, is a great way to learn. Not just working with the mentors, but the other mentees in your class is so valuable. During the conference call discussions, sometimes you have those, “oh good, I’m not alone” moments.

Tips to Make Work Easier


The Association News Committee will share their best productivity tips because ideas that make our jobs easier should be shared.  Let’s hear from Katie Nelson!

I think one of the biggest issues facing financial aid professionals today is the stress of our day to day lives, the constant changing regulations, staff turnover, more and more things our offices are tasked with tracking and preparing.

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(I really like The Office. We’ve even changed our phone ringtones to The Office theme song. I highly recommend it.)

My tip for making work easier is to reduce stress by practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness is defined as being present in the moment in a nonjudgmental way. Some examples of mindfulness include:

  • Being aware and accepting of the present experience
  • Bringing focus, awareness and attention to the present moment
  • “single-tasking” rather than multi-tasking
  • Being wholeheartedly present here and now
  • Being attentive to what you are doing rather than operating automatically
  • Nurturing attitudes of acceptance and non-judgment, which adds warmth, friendliness, and compassion.

I know some of that sounds like what you would hear in a yoga class (I like yoga too!), but if you really think about it, it can and does apply to our work lives. You can practice mindfulness in a formal or informal manner. Formal practice involves setting aside specific time to be mindful, such as time to meditate. Informal practice is reminding yourself to be mindful while you while you are completing another task. For example, noticing the sensations of walking when we walk or noticing the feel of soapy water on our hands when washing dishes.

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Stay with me people!

The benefits of mindfulness are huge! I won’t show the whole list, but if you are curious, you can google to find out more!

  • Strengthened immune system
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Helps maintain weight
  • Reduced fatigue and anxiety
  • Better brain function
  • Decreased depression
  • Enhanced listening skills

When you slow the mind, you think more clearly. You respond thoughtfully instead of simply reacting. Mindfulness helps your body to relax. Your body can’t be relaxed and stressed at the same time so, when you are relaxed, you think more clearly and tend to make wiser decisions.

If you take anything away from my ramblings and Office references, let it be this.

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Be present in the moment. Give the students and your co-workers your full attention instead of thinking about what else you have to do that day or week. Don’t look at your emails while listening to a parent on the phone. Live a less stressed life!

Katie

Katie Nelson
Black Hills State University – Student Financial Services