Leadership Pipeline: Sarah Standley

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 Sarah Standley.

Sarah Standley

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

Hi! My name is Sarah Standley, and I am a Senior Financial Aid Advisor at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. I have worked in the Financial Aid office at UNL for four years. I am responsible for supervising the work study employees who work in our financial aid office. I do the hiring, training, and scheduling for these young professionals. I currently have 13 work study students, and they are responsible for answering student and parent questions on phones, at the front counter, and through email. We also do calling campaigns throughout the year to remind students about important deadlines.

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

My mentor is Dori Roth. Dori is the Associate Director of Financial Aid at Hesston College in Hesston, KS. When I met Dori, I knew right away that we would get along very well! She is easy going, sharp, direct, and hilarious. Dori’s financial aid office consists of herself and one other person. In contrast, my office has 30 staff members. One of my professional goals is to learn about other areas of financial aid administration. Although my role is important to the functioning in my office, I’m also limited as to what I do every day since it’s primarily customer service based. Since Dori’s office is so small, she is responsible for a lot of different areas of financial aid processing. I’m grateful that she has all of this knowledge that she is willing to share with me, and I’m looking forward to learning from her. Dori also gives great advice, and she has helped me through a few tough situations already. I’m hopeful that we will be able to continue our relationship even after the program ends.

Why did you decide to join Leadership Pipeline?

I was fortunate enough to attend the RMASFAA Conference in October 2016, and that was the first time I heard about the Leadership Pipeline program. During the conference, I started asking questions about the program and what kind of things the mentees were learning. I heard nothing but good things about the program from the participants. After I got home from the conference, I also had some strong encouragement and support from staff members in my own office. I look up to the leaders in the financial aid office on my campus, and I admire the way they are continuously trying to improve processing and our service to students. They have implemented a lot of innovative ideas, and I hope that I can someday do that same thing and bring ideas that will help our office serve students better.

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

One of the most insightful things I have taken away so far has been the difference between leading a team vs managing a team. I am new to leading a team, so this is something I’m still learning. My goal as a leader is to lead by building relationships with my team members. I want to help each of them grow personally through coaching and help them build skills that will be useful to them in their career someday. If I can help them develop these skills, it will not only help our office functioning, but it will also help them for their future.

Also, I sometimes tend to get overwhelmed with the day-to-day duties in the office, and I forget to take a step back to remember why I first started in this industry. Student service is important to me, and it helps me to remember that my primary responsibility is to make college financing possible for all students. When I think about that, it helps me to feel refreshed so I can dive back into my work with a renewed sense of purpose.

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

I am relatively new to my position supervising the work study students in our office. I have never supervised anyone before this, so I know there are a lot of areas in which I can improve. Specifically, I am hoping to learn how to train my staff more efficiently and effectively and how to coach employees to have better performance. I would also like to get more ideas on how to train my staff to work more independently so they can feel more empowered in their positions and develop their own professional skills. I want to become a better leader myself, but I also want to help my own staff to be the best they can be.

Why would you recommend the Leadership Pipeline program to others?

Although I’ve only been in this program for a few months, I have already learned so many things that I feel I can implement. One of the most exciting things I’ve learned is the importance of setting strategic goals. I’ve been in my “new” position for about a year now, but I’m ashamed to say that I’ve never really thought about how I can make changes to improve the way my team functions. I’m realizing that there are so many simple things I can do with my team to improve customer service as a whole.

I would recommend this program because I know there are going to be so many other things like this that I will be learning how to implement. I really believe that I will be able to make many other positive changes to the office as a result of what I’m learning here. I would also recommend Leadership Pipeline because of all the awesome people I have had the opportunity to meet!

President’s Update

As 2017 comes to a close, I look back at many great RMASFAA memories. Here are some highlights:

• Summer Institute – Our SI Committee did an excellent job in continuing the reputation of this week of learning as being one of financial aid’s premier training opportunities. This year’s Summer Institute, to sum it up, was an outstanding, encompassing event. So exciting to see the dedication of the faculty and committee along with the enthusiasm of the attendees come together for another successful event. The NASFAA University materials provided a strong base for our faculty and the NASFAA credentialing options provided additional opportunities for our attendees. SI went completely electronic from the training materials to the e-newsletters. Mark your calendars for June 3-8, 2018 for next year’s Summer Institute located in the beautiful setting of Colorado College in Colorado Springs, CO.
• Annual Conference – The 2017 RMASFAA Conference in Wichita, KS hit near record attendance levels and was an amazing conference. The conference started out with a night of fun, laughter, entertainment and great food at the “Mosley Street Melodrama”. The conference was filled with a wide variety of sessions and great opportunities to network. Outstanding job Kansas! Mark your calendars for RMASFAA’s 50th Anniversary Conference in Fargo, ND October 7-10, 2018 where the conference theme is “North of Normal”!
• I held my transitional board meetings where the soon to be 2017-18 RMASFAA Board met for the first time. I was so impressed by the level of interaction, enthusiasm and volunteerism demonstrated by this dedicated group of individuals. I am so excited for the upcoming year of service with this board!
• In November I had the opportunity to attend the NASFAA Board Meeting as an observer. It was a tremendous experience and wonderful opportunity. I had the privilege to see in action our own Vicki Kucera (Past President) serving as RMASFAA Regional Representative and Brenda Hicks serving as Representative at Large. I was very impressed by the board proceedings and the dedication displayed by the board in NASFAA’s efforts to advocate for students. This was a wonderful opportunity for me as I prepare to become the RMASFAA Representative Board Member after the NASFAA 2018 Conference in Austin.

It is such an honor and privilege to be a part of this wonderful association and to serve you as RMASFAA President. Thank you for all your dedication and service which makes RMASFAA such an outstanding organization. I’m looking forward to all our events coming up in 2018.

All my best to you this Holiday Season and best wishes in the New Year!
Ken Kocer, RMASFAA President

Ken Kocer

DMCI Scholarship Recipient – Beverly Lammey

I was honored to receive one of the Diversity and Multicultural Initiatives scholarships allowing me to attend the RMASFAA conference in Wichita, KS this fall.

When you get to attend a conference like this it becomes apparent that the people in the area of Financial Aid make all the difference. My co-workers and associates motivate me to learn and overcome the difficult situations that can arise.

Thank you to the Training Committee for creating access to credentialing through webinars this year.  Attending the conference allowed me to add The SAP Credential as the 5th earned this year.

My position as one of several Financial Aid Specialist l at Montana State University Bozeman allows me to be involved in many aspects of Financial Aid.  We counsel students and their concerned parents by phone, email, and as they come in to our office.  The processes we preform include Verification, Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeals, Special Conditions Appeals, packaging and all of the changes students request during the year.  In addition, I am part of the Scholarship team.  We process new awards, review renewing awards and update BANNER by creating and setting up the billing accounts. The resources are offered through the Alumni Foundation, the Montana University System, Athletics and those awarded by the individual Colleges and Departments.  Some of these are growing but the State funds have declined and 3 programs were eliminated last year. In addition to losing these funds the Perkins Loan came to a close this year.  What is the future of access to higher education for students with high financial need?  The Break-out sessions I attended in conjunction with the Federal Update and NASFAA Update helped me realize that I am curious about the future of Financial Aid, not just on my campus but at the Federal Level.

It has been a happy 2 years of growth for me here in the Financial Aid office of Montana State University.  I hope to continue on and look forward to serving on a State or Regional Committee through 2018-2019.

Beverly Lammey
Financial Aid Specialist 1
Montana State University

Calling All Volunteers!


Click here to sign up to volunteer!

Association News – This committee keeps the RMASFAA blog up to date and looks for members to share their impressions of the things happening in their states.  Expect to interview a few people for interesting blog posts.  All meetings will happen remotely so this is a good committee for someone who wants to get involved but can’t commit to a lot of in person projects.

Conference – If you’re in North Dakota (or close to it) and want to get involved in helping to put on an amazing 2018 conference in Fargo, this is the committee for you.   They are looking for people to help with publicity, registration, materials, coordinating and finding trainers, curriculum, entertainment, decorations and site arrangements.

Corporate Support – This committee reaches out to the corporate members to help with advertising and exhibitions.  If you’re interested in enhancing the association member experience, this might be the committee for you.

Diversity & Multicultural Initiatives – This committee addresses the needs of our diverse membership.  If you have seen a place where RMASFAA can work to become more inclusive of our underrepresented membership, please volunteer for this one.

Leadership Pipeline – If you’re passionate about professional development, check out Leadership Pipeline.  Leadership Pipeline has recently switched from a biennial program to annually, so there will always be plenty of interesting conversations.

Membership – If you want to meet new people, this is the one for you.  Membership helps with recruiting new members and checking in on the existing ones.

Summer Institute – If you’ve been to one of our Summer Institutes, you know how many people are involved to make sure the event is a positive educational experience for everyone.  They are looking for people to help with publicity, registration, materials, coordinating and finding trainers, curriculum, entertainment, and site arrangements.

Training – The goal of the Training committee is to make a robust calendar of training events available for RMASFAA members.

Click here to sign up to volunteer!