Please welcome Erinn Brauer and Erika Gleason from Mid-Plains Community College in Nebraska. Erinn started in RMASFAA in 2015 with her new position as Area Director of Financial Aid for Mid-Plains at the institution’s McCook campus. Erika started this year in February as a Financial Aid Specialist at the school’s campus in North Platte.
Q: Erinn, what is your background and how did you get into financial aid?
Erinn: I completed my Bachelor of Arts in Business and Apparel and Design at Concordia College in Moorhead, MN. I then went on to complete my MBA at UNL. At the time I was working in retail, but was looking for a career with a better schedule (not having to work nights, weekend, and holidays!). A co-worker mentioned that the school she was working for was hiring for financial aid specialists. I started in financial aid (in 2011) with that school shortly after.
Q: What brought you to McCook, NE, and Mid-Plains Community College? Tell RMASFAA a bit about what you do there.
Erinn: I’d been working in financial aid for about four years and had been encouraged by family, friends, and co-workers to start looking for director positions. In that search, I found this opportunity with Mid-Plains Community College. My dad had recently moved to McCook so the job posting caught my eye. The rest, as they say, is history! I’m now in my second year as the Area Director of Financial Aid for Mid-Plains Community College. I oversee our financial aid department which is split between McCook and North Platte. I also assist the staff at our extended campuses when their students have questions about financial aid and are not able to go to one of our offices in person.
Q: What is your favorite thing about your work?
Erinn: My favorite thing is the students and the people that I work with. Mid-Plains has an amazing student-focused culture and it’s been a real joy to be here.
Q: You sent a staff member, Erika Gleason, to Summer Institute. What made you decide to send her? Have you noticed a change since her return?
Erinn: One of our financial aid specialists in North Platte, Veronica Wolf, had attended Summer Institute a few years ago. She had a fantastic experience so when Erika started with Mid-Plains, Veronica suggested that Erika attend. I had heard good things about Summer Institute from others at the RMASFAA conference in October and am excited that Erika was able to attend. Erika has learned a LOT since she started in financial aid in February. Summer Institute provided clarity on some issues and she’s been able to come back and help train the team on what she’s learned. She was excited about her new career in financial aid before she attended, but I think she’s even more excited now to continue to learn and grow in the field.
Q: Erika, you were in the Hi Ho Cherry-O Summer Institute class. How was your SI experience?
Erika: I am very new to financial aid – I started on February 1st. Summer Institute was an INCREDIBLE experience. I would highly recommend it to anyone. I really enjoyed that my class was designed specifically for people that had little to no experience in financial aid. The instructors did a fantastic job working through the NASFAA U curriculum and pulling out the information that would be most vital to those new to the profession. The classroom environment was so comfortable. I truly feel like I made friends in the profession that would be more than willing to help me troubleshoot if I run into any issues.
On another note – Golden, CO was absolutely gorgeous. I couldn’t think of a better place to spend an intense week of learning.
Angie Zeorlin, one of Erika’s instructors, stated, “Erika was really on top of her game at SI. She was very inquisitive, asked great questions and was always willing to share her knowledge and experiences with everyone in the room. [She] was able to set strong roots at SI that will continue to benefit our profession as her experience grows!”
Q: Do you have a favorite quote?
Erinn: One of my favorites is “If you can dream it, you can do it.” – Walt Disney
Erika: I would also say that is one of my favorite quotes. I think it ties in so well to what we do because as financial aid professionals we help students reach their dreams.
Q: What do you do for fun/hobbies/favorites?
Erinn: My fiancé and I play board games in our free time. Some of our favorites are Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island, Mansions of Madness, and Pandemic. I also love to spend time with my nieces.
Erika I really enjoy going to local breweries and wineries. I am fascinated by the different processes and ingredients that go into each blend. I also really enjoy country music concerts, preferably at some sort of local fair or festival.
Q: When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Erinn: I remember thinking I’d like to be a teacher. My life took another path and now I’m serving students in a different way.
Erika: When I was little at one point I told my mom I wanted to be either a teacher or a waitress. She assured me I could do both if I wanted. I actually did pursue teaching for a while, but I am very happy to be working in financial aid now.
Q: What is your favorite family tradition?
Erinn: My family would go to Yellowstone National Park in the summer when I was growing up, we still try to go back most years to go geyser watching, see wildlife, and enjoy good food and spending time together. A close second would be the food and cookies we make for Christmas each year – yum!
Erika: My favorite tradition doesn’t actually happen anymore, but when I was little my whole family would go camping each year at a lake about two hours from where we lived. It was probably the only time of the year that that side of the family got all of my aunts, uncles, and cousins together. My favorite part of the trip was always sitting around the campfire at night because we would play so many different games and spend the whole time laughing. As we’ve all grown up we’ve tried numerous times to restart this tradition but with so many of us living in different parts of the country the timing never seems to work out.
Please welcome Erinn and Erika at the next RMASFAA event!