Emily Lauritsen, from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas, was the second recipient of the DMCI Summer Institute Scholarship. Read on as she tells us about her experience.
I was lucky enough to attend the 2017 Summer Institute on scholarship through the Diversity and Multi-cultural Initiatives Committee. The week was packed with networking, problem solving, and just good ol’ fashioned fun. The campus was breathtaking when we arrived to the School of Mines. My co-workers were in different groups than I was in, which encouraged us all to branch out of our comfort zones a little bit and make some connections. I had the pleasure of being in the Blue Macaw group and we were provided with the tools to test for the Student Eligibility and the SAP certification. There were after class activities like bingo and morning/evening walks (I didn’t participate in the walks because I went on a run each morning – running in the mountains is much more difficult than running in Topeka, KS; that is for sure! Hoofa!)
My favorite part about the summer institute was the ability to network and hear how other schools process their student financial aid. There are so many things that can be left to the discretion of the school and having the ability to hear how schools interpret certain guidelines to create their individual policies is so interesting. Everybody at SI is there with one goal – to learn as much as they can so they can return and provide better service to their student population. I was able to receive copies of forms that schools use to get ideas on how to streamline processes and I also received an excel sheet to help verify R2T4 calculations were being done correctly in our system.
While I was at the institute I was paying attention to the diversity among our financial aid community. It was so comforting to see that everybody came from different places, held different beliefs, and were in different stages of life but that every last one of the financial aid professionals that was in attendance is ultimately the same. We are all inclusive and we all want what is best for the student. Networking can be hard in some businesses, but I found that networking at the SI was so easy because everybody in attendance wants to know how my school does things just as much as I want to know about theirs. The wealth of knowledge that is available to a person at the SI is outstanding and I am so humbled by the connections I made. I know that I will be able to stay in contact with my fellow Blue Macaws and others that I met for years as sources of information and hopefully will be able to see them again at future conferences. Thank you DMCI for this opportunity!