Throughout the series we will be going back to past Ron Smout recipients and finding out their story to becoming a teacher/mentor and their words of wisdom. The fifth Limelight is on Grant Uecker.
Q: Everyone has a different “my start in financial aid” story. What was yours?
A: My career began in the fall of 1973 when I was appointed the Assistant Business at Dakota Wesleyan University. I became familiar with the EOG, NDSL, CWS, and BEOG programs at that time. (They were the Educational Opportunity Program, The National Defense Student Loans, the College Workstudy Program and the Basic Educational Opportunity Program). In the fall of 1979 I became the Financial Aid Coordinator at Mitchell Technical Institute and remained in that position until retiring in the summer of 2012.
Q: Once you were in financial aid, who would you say was your mentor?
A: Don Buehrer (Mount Marty College) and I started in the profession at about the same time and traveled to numerous financial aid meetings, state, regional, and national. We pretty much helped each other learn the basics and progressed together as policies and procedures changed on a regular basis.
Q: What impacted you to become a teacher/mentor? And why were you so passionate about it?
A: Watching the presenters at the meetings and the help they provided to learn the new regulations gave me the inspiration to become a presenter and help others. I wanted folks that were new to the profession to get a great start and feel comfortable with working with students and insuring that their students got the maximum benefits from their financial aid office. Great post-secondary graduates can do great things for the country’s economy.
Q: We would love to find out where you are now? How is retirement treating?
A: I remain at my residence in Mitchell, South Dakota. Retirement is great. My wife and I can visit our two kids and 5 grandchildren whenever we want to. My time is spent bowling, exercising, and riding my bike. I serve the community by being the Treasurer of the Prehistoric Indian Village and serving on committees for the Exchange Club.
Q: Any words of wisdom for new financial aid administrators?
A: Go to meetings, get involved by serving on committees and run for a position on your state, regional, and maybe even a national one. Oh, and enjoy life. Time goes so fast!