Michele was born and raised in Fargo, ND. She attended the North Dakota School for the Deaf in Devils Lake, ND as well as the National Technical Institute for the Deaf in Rochester, New York. She has worked in financial aid for 28 years as a Loan Processor. In addition to processing Federal Direct and Alternative Loans, Michele enters the award revisions and cancels/reinstates aid for students. Michele and her husband, Bernard, have been married for 27 years and have three daughters – Samantha, Vanessa and Cassandra – and one granddaughter, Claire.
How (and when) did you get into the financial aid field?
When I was done with school, I came back home and searched for a job in Fargo. The local Job Service had a type of “youth program” and they informed me that there was a job at NDSU Financial Aid. I went there for an interview and the boss seemed hesitant to hire me because of my deafness. I told him that I can prove to him that I can do it! Then he hired me for a summer job. When the time was up, I had to leave because there was no opening. Shortly thereafter, they wanted me to come back part-time and several months after that, an employee resigned and I was hired for that position as a full-time staff member. I am very thankful that they gave me the opportunity.
In your opinion, what is the greatest challenge facing the financial aid industry at this time?
To keep up with the federal regulations as they are always changing. Customer service is our priority and we strive to serve the students and keep them as happy as we can! The changes in the financial aid industry are challenging but they are also fun and keep the job more interesting!
What is the greatest opportunity?
We always use our efforts to keep the students happy and complete the tasks on time as much as we can.
What do you like best about your job?
I like the job as it is always full of challenges and fun and it is always motivating to work here. Plus we have a great staff and our teamwork is always a champion! The staff has always inspired me.
What do you like least?
I can’t think of anything. 🙂
What obstacles have you overcome in your life that you are most proud of?
I have been deaf since birth. My grandparent was deaf. My parents knew sign language before I was born. I am very fortunate that they were able to communicate with me. Even though I’m deaf, I don’t feel that I am disabled because I can do everything the same as anybody else, except hear. If something became available that would allow me to hear, I must admit that I would prefer to remain deaf as I grew up that way and am used to it.
What outside activities and organizations are you involved in? What are your hobbies?
I have been the President of the North Dakota Association of the Deaf intermittently for 14 years and am highly involved in the Deaf Community. I teach the American Sign Language classes at Moorhead High School, Minnesota State University – Moorhead and also to the staff in NDSU Student Financial Services.
My hobbies are flowers, my family, and traveling.
If you could choose another profession, what would it be and why?
Probably teaching. I like to teach people about American Sign Language and the Deaf Culture so they become aware when they meet any deaf people.
If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I would like to go to Alaska to enjoy the nature and to sight-see. I always enjoy sightseeing where God has created beauty on earth.
Submitted by Kristie Paulson, Financial Aid Counselor / Student Financial Services, North Dakota State University