Introducing the Leadership Pipeline series. The eight participants that make up this year’s class will share their experiences about participating in RMASFAA’s renowned professional development program.
What is your current position and how long have you worked in financial aid?
I am the Scholarship Coordinator for the Northern Wyoming Community College District – Sheridan College, Gillette College, and Sheridan College in Johnson County. I have been working in the financial aid office since 2013.
Who is your Leadership Pipeline mentor and describe your relationship with them.
My mentor is Valerie Curtin, Director of Financial Aid at Helena College – University of Montana. Valerie is a great mentor. Upon meeting each other in October at RMASFAA, we found out right away we had something in common (other than financial aid of course): we are both originally from the Midwest! We usually talk on the phone about twice a month and sometimes email in between. She is a sounding board for my thoughts. She is a great listener and provides me with a lot of insight into the world of financial aid and on being a professional financial aid administrator. It is a comfort to know that I have someone I can bounce my thoughts off and she will provide unbiased opinions and constructive criticism to help guide me. I know that our relationship will extend after my commencement from Leadership Pipeline. She is and will be a valuable resource and a speed-dial contact for me no matter where my financial aid path may take me.
Why did you decide to join Leadership Pipeline?
I attended the new and aspiring director track at Summer Institute this past June. It was a great experience and I learned so much from the conversations we had in the classroom (shout out to James and Mary!). It was an awesome experience to have individuals from varying backgrounds and FA responsibilities come together and mesh with sharing our experiences, thoughts, and constructive criticisms. I know that I have a firm grasp on FA and how to assist students, but I want to expand my knowledge, learn from others’ experiences, as well as share my experiences with others. FA is ever changing and it is important to learn from others on how to deal with accepting the changes and how these changes affect our students. Maybe, eventually, I’ll work my way up to being an officer within RMASFAA. I felt that Leadership Pipeline would be the first step in finding the tools I would need to succeed on that path, as well as another outlet to network with other RMASFAA members whom share my desire to learn.
What is the most valuable thing you’ve learned so far?
(Its not easy) being green. This means I have a drive to know all there is to know about everything, but at the same time, I can be skeptical. I am always asking ‘Why?’ and need to know how a decision will affect the end result.
This helps me understand what aspects of my work life and personal life I need to strengthen or just let go. It helps me get a general starting point of how I interact with others and why I am the way I am. Knowing how I fall into the Pace Palette spectrum is valuable because it helps me understand why and how I approach situations, what characteristics I look for in people as part of my daily interactions, and why I expect so much of myself.
What is it that you are hoping to come away with at the end of the program?
I look forward to having an extended network of RMASFAA members to add to my contacts list. I look forward to having a lasting relationship with Valerie – being able to reach out to her at any moment with a question or need for feedback. A personal goal of mine is to learn how to be a leader in an ever changing and fast-paced professional office. I know that I have many strengths that I can bring to the table, but I am also aware of my weaknesses. I look forward to learning ways on how to improve upon my weaknesses to turn them into strengths, to be more accepting of changes that are beyond my control, both in a professional office environment and my personal life, and how to be a leader for others using empowerment.
Why would you recommend the Leadership Pipeline program to others?
Leadership Pipeline is a great way to get you in touch with your regional colleagues and to make connections within RMASFAA that you may not otherwise have the opportunity to make. It makes you aware of how you approach various situations, where your strengths lie, and how you interact with others. It is a great way to step out of your comfort zone and leave your shell behind. We are all very busy with our day-to-day obligations, but if you ever have the opportunity to apply for this program and if you are offered a spot, take it! Do not miss a fabulous opportunity to be paired with a mentor who can offer you an outsider’s perspective, provide feedback from their experiences, share their financial aid knowledge, and maybe even inspire you to be a mentor one day.