Last year, I had the wonderful opportunity of volunteering on NASFAA’s Access, Diversity, and Excellence Committee. While I was in Washington, D.C. for a committee meeting, I had the pleasure of meeting Jennifer Martin who is the Senior Content Development Specialist at NASFAA. Now that I sit on RMASFAA’s Association News Committee, I thought it would be neat for you all to meet this dedicated NASFAA professional through an interview that I conducted with her this month.
Jennifer resides in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area yet she grew up in our RMASFAA region, living in Colorado and Kansas during her childhood. She, like so many people I know, fell into the financial aid field somewhat by coincidence. During the mid-1990’s, she was working on her graduate degree at the University of Maryland. When she didn’t get funding from her department for her degree program, she took a graduate assistant job in the financial aid office. That graduate assistant position led to more than just money for grad school. As Jennifer put it, “The timing was just right because after I finished my master’s degree, a job opening came up and I was hired.” Almost 20 years later, Jennifer is still in the industry.
January 2012 marks Jennifer’s sixth year with NASFAA. I asked Jennifer what originally interested her in the NASFAA position when she applied. She commented, “The job description sounded like my dream job because I enjoy doing training and researching policy questions.” Jennifer’s favorite training topics to facilitate are verification and early awareness geared toward high school counselors. On any given day, Jennifer balances working on specific projects with various meetings that she attends between different NASFAA departments. “Ask Regs” is also part of her duties at NASFAA. “There are seven people in Training and Regulatory Assistance who rotate through regulatory duty every month due to the intensity of the work. On average, we handle 10-15 questions a day,” explained Jennifer. I asked Jennifer how she researched her answers for the questions and she said, “After reading through the question and getting a good understanding of the question, I quickly identify which part of the regulations or federal handbook to review. I look to the handbook first because this is usually easier for the financial aid administrator to know where I’m coming from.” Jennifer mentioned that there are some questions that they have received before so they don’t have to do research on those since they keep their e-mails to prevent duplicate research.
In-between all of this work, Jennifer does get time to enjoy living in Washington, D.C. I asked her what her favorite part about D.C. was and she said, “The proximity to museums and landmarks is my favorite part. It is challenging because when you are local, you take them for granted but it’s neat to go on a short subway ride to see the Martin Luther King Memorial, for example.” Jennifer also enjoys reading in her spare time. Her favorite book is “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Although “The Little Prince” is technically classified as a children’s book, Jennifer said that it is a book that she enjoys reading and she discovers something new each time she reads it. She recommends it to us all!
As we were wrapping up the interview, I asked Jennifer what the most rewarding part of her job was with NASFAA. She said, “Knowing that I am helping members at financial aid offices do their jobs the best they can is rewarding. I find gratitude when people respond that a certain webinar or training really targeted what they needed to know.” Jennifer emphasized that membership feedback is very important so they know they are providing training on the right topics. NASFAA staff creates all of their training materials from scratch and they try and anticipate what the financial aid community needs.
I want to thank Jennifer for her time and dedication to the financial aid community and NASFAA. I also want to thank her for letting me interview her and sharing her story with you, our RMASFAA blog readers. So, the next time you attend a NASFAA webinar or training, please don’t forget to complete the feedback forms and training surveys that help NASFAA employees like Jennifer provide us good, quality training!
RMASFAA, Association News Vice-Chair