Art’s path to a career in Financial Aid is a little unexpected, unusual, rare.
It all began when Art was teaching high school in Northern Utah. After seven years teaching in Utah’s public schools, he was burned out and decided teaching was not a long-term commitment. He had no idea what direction his life would take him. Thus, he began the “search.” He found a position for a Financial Aid Counselor open at Utah State, had no prior experience, but filled out an application, sent the required cover letter and résumé (which did not include references from his current place of employment, mostly because he assumed that there were virtually no transferable skills between teaching high school and working in a financial aid office).
At the time, Judy LeCheminant was Director of Financial Aid at Utah State. Judy’s litmus test – an applicant’s résumé had to include at least one reference from the current place of employment (otherwise it was trashed). Needless to say, Art’s résumé was trashed.
Later, in casual conversation around the dinner table, USU’s Associate Director of Financial Aid, Steve Sharp, mentioned to his daughter Elizabeth that a teacher from her school had applied for the position. Elizabeth mentioned how Art was so great, thus Steve returned to work the following day and requested his résumé be fished out of the garbage. Thanks to former student Elizabeth Sharp, who provided the “best” reference (around the dinner table, no less) – Art got his start in Financial Aid.
After two years, Art moved to the lender side of the house as a Relationship Manager with KeyBank (Art’s all-time favorite job). In fact, this is where he began networking in RMASFAA. While at KeyBank, Art’s duties included establishing relationships, keeping folks happy and providing useful information to constituents in Utah. After one year, his territory expanded to Montana and Wyoming. Then quickly Idaho, Colorado and Kansas. In addition, Art worked remotely with a diverse group of people from all across the country. It was “awesome and invigorating,” Art said. He mentioned that in this position, he made lifelong friends.
Unfortunately, due to the mandated transition to Direct Lending and associated changes to the landscape, KeyBank exited the student loan industry in 2008.
With that, Art relocated to Provo College where he served as the Director of Financial Services for 2 ½ years. In this capacity Art oversaw everything from VA benefits to work-study. Eventually (in 2011), he made a jump to the other side of town to Brigham Young University, where he currently works as an Associate Director – and the rest, as we say – is history.
Art has served on a variety of UASFAA and RMASFAA committees. While serving as President-Elect, Art participated in the NASFAA Leadership Conference and is excited about the opportunity to observe on a National Level as RMASFAA president. Art was officially supplied the gavel during the awards ceremony October 21, 2014 at Snowbird, Utah.
Art enjoys working in financial aid: the colleagues, the students, and even the constant changes (most of the time). When asked to highlight his first RMASFAA experience, Art simply stated, “It became more about the people – the people were the experience.” He was energized by the people, connections and networking opportunities. It was then he envisioned his job as a career, rather than just a job.
Art is constantly amazed by the caliber of volunteers and the generosity of the people who are willing to give of their time and talents for the benefit of our students, our profession and our association. “It is truly inspiring.”
With regard to advice for others – especially those new to the Financial Aid profession, Art mentioned the secret for him “is finding satisfaction, motivation and feeling validation.” He’s excited to come to work and tries to see things from a broader perspective. He has become a beneficiary as a result of his volunteer service. “Often we have the mentality that we are too busy to add something else to our duties. However, you really do get more out of it than you put in. It makes the work we do more effective and much more enjoyable.”
Art was honored as co-recipient of the Oscar R. ‘Jack’ Hendrix award in 2010.