Oscar R. ‘Jack’ Hendrix Award Spotlight – Jessie Dufner

Jessie

I found my passion for financial aid after being hired as the Financial Aid Director at Miles Community College (Miles City, MT) in 2003. I had never worked in a Financial Aid Office before but I was about to embark on an incredible journey that would lead me to where I am today. I can still remember the first training I attended with fellow MASFAA colleagues. The training topic was student eligibility and it was taught by Deborah Tarpley and Devon Croft. While I remember my mind racing to absorb everything I possibly could, I also remember the incredible comradery and the feeling that I had just entered into a very special family of people who were like no other people I had ever worked with before – I was hooked!

It didn’t take long for me to become active in MASFAA and RMASFAA. After about a year of settling into my director role, I began serving MASFAA as its Secretary/Treasurer. I was also invited to become a Decentralized Trainer and was able to travel to Great Bend, Kansas and Great Falls, Montana to provide NASFAA Decentralized Training.

During this time, my career was evolving and I had the opportunity to work for Student Assistance Foundation as a Campus Outreach Manager where I operated the branch campus office at Miles Community College. This amazing experience allowed me to share my passion for access to education with high school and college students across eastern Montana.

My passion for financial aid kept pulling at my heart and in 2007, I was hired back at Miles Community College as the Director of Student Financial/Enrollment Services. This position allowed me to assist the Director of Financial Aid while integrating enrollment management into my duties. This position also allowed me to springboard back into serving MASFAA and RMASFAA. I became the RMASFAA Membership Co-Chair in 2007 and Chair in 2008. In 2008, I was nominated as President-Elect for MASFAA and began my progression to President and Past-President of MASFAA. Additionally, I had the amazing opportunity to serve on NASFAA’s Access, Diversity, and Excellence Committee and sat on the RMASFAA Board as the MASFAA President. The final act of service that I had before being hired in my current position was being the RMASFAA Association News Co-Chair.

As I was volunteering my time to MASFAA and RMASFAA, I never expected to receive an award for doing something that felt so natural to me. When I was notified that I had received the 2008 Oscar R. “Jack” Hendrix Rookie of the Year Award for my dedication to the RMASFAA Membership Committee, I was deeply humbled. I still dedicate that award to all of the role models and mentors I had along the way who believed in me and taught me the ropes and inspired me to serve MASFAA, RMASFAA, and NASFAA.

In 2012, I became the Vice President of Enrollment and Student Success at Miles Community College, however, my financial aid heart still beats strongly. Every once in a while, I still get to help with a FAFSA or pop into RRAAREQ and RPAAWRD to help students. And, from time-to-time, when the sun shines through my office window just right, a rainbow prism forms from my Oscar R. “Jack” Hendrix Rookie of the Year Award and it catches my eye and reminds me of all the warm friendships and memories I have because of the years I served in MASFAA, RMASFAA, and NASFAA.

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