Janet Riis, Director of Financial Aid – Carroll College, Helena, MT
Janet received the Oscar R. ‘Jack’ Hendrix Award in 2003.
Our stories are all varied on how we began our financial aid career. My story began as a naive college graduate, applying for my first job as a Customer Assistance Representative at the Montana Guaranteed Student Loan Program. Meg Foutch said I was so nervous I was shaking. She decided if I wanted the job that badly they just had to hire me. A year later I joined the counseling team in the Financial Aid Office at my alma mater, Carroll College. Twenty years later I am still happy with my acceptance of that first job offer! I am the Director of Financial Aid and happy to live in Helena, MT.
At my first state conference my co-worker convinced me to sumo wrestle Jennifer Almli. You know – those huge plastic stinky suits you put on and attempt to walk in. That was how I introduced myself to my new state association. I became fast friends with so many colleagues over the years and jumped at the chance to get involved. It just took someone believing in me for me to accept duties on our MASFAA Board. My first RMASFAA conference was held in Whitefish, MT. After that conference I wanted to branch out so when colleagues asked me to co-chair the next Montana hosted RMASFAA conference in Big Sky I said yes! The Board cut our budget many times but we still had a great conference. Those first steps in RMASFAA lead me to various other Board of Director, Summer Institute and committee positions.
I’ve met so many great people from our eight state region. The connections I have made have helped me personally and professionally. It is nice to know if I have questions I can reach out to colleagues across the nation!
Some days when you feel like the ever changing federal regulation world is getting you down the only thing that can lift you up are the friends you have in our associations. They are the ones who truly understand. Go to trainings, volunteer for committees, run for an office or just reach out to someone and tell them “I think you have a lot to offer the association!”