Introducing the RMASFAA Distinguished Service Award series. Throughout the series we will be asking past recipients of this award to share their stories and experiences with RMASFAA. The first post in this series features Mark Schilmoeller, Executive Vice President/Managing Director, Operations at Nelnet.
“What does RMASFAA and having received their Distinguished Service Award mean to me? When asked this question, it made me smile. My involvement with RMASFAA initially started out as more of a job requirement. One of those duties listed in a job description; attend, engage and actively participate in state, regional and national industry related conferences and associations. I soon came to realize that RMASFAA was much more than that. Yes, there was work to be done, but it felt more like a family reunion than a work conference when it came to RMASFAA. I have attended way too many conferences over the life of my professional career and the majority of those have never captivated me emotionally and intellectually like RMASFAA has.
I have formed lifelong friendships through my involvement and participation with RMASFAA. I think what makes RMASFAA special, is the people and their passion and collaborative nature to want to work together to improve the Financial Aid Industry, not just for their own offices and staff, but for the students and families they serve. There truly is a servant leadership mentality within RMASFAA.
Early in my attendance and participation with RMASFAA, I knew I wanted to get involved and help to advance the association. Some might say I have an out-going personality and so I gravitated more towards the conference planning, membership and corporate sponsorship committees so that I could directly engage with association members. There are so many different ways you can get involved with RMASFAA and I encourage all members, especially those new to RMASFAA, to find a committee that interests you, get connected and make a difference. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to serve for several years and even Chair the “Nationally Recognized” RMASFAA Summer Institute Committee with many of my RMASFAA friends. What great memories.
I was honored and humbled by receiving the RMASFAA Distinguished Service Award in both 1996 and then again in 2009. Those two plaques have hung in many offices as I have transitioned through my career at Nelnet, reminding me of the importance of friendships, collaborative hard work and having a passion for the work we do. Both times I received the award were a surprise to me. I would always look around the room and wonder who RMASFFAA would bestow that great honor on. Whose name would be added to the list of great RMASFAA leaders and mentors, such as Glenn ‘Skip’ Sharp, Sandy Calhoun, Ron Smout, Kathy McConnell, Phil Van Horn, Janet Dodson, Bob Walker, Larry Viterna, ………….. and the list goes on. So many from RMASFAA had and still have an impact on how I interact with people and approach situations. The plaque reads: “In appreciation and recognition of your outstanding contributions to RMASFAA’. The interesting thing to me, as I sit here and think about what these awards meant and still mean to me, is that I feel RMASFAA has contributed way more to me both professionally and personally over the years than what I have to them and for that I am most grateful.
Some of my best and funniest memories are from time spent with my RMASFAA friends. So when asked what RMASFAA means to me, I think of family.”
I hope you enjoyed reading Mark’s response as much as I did–there is clearly a lot of love for RMASFAA!
Association News Committee