The Exchange Blog will post monthly mentee blogs from the Leadership Pipeline: Class of 2019 throughout the year.
This month’s mentee is Tabitha Haynes. Tabitha is at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. Her mentor is Chelsey Springer from the University of Utah.
What is your current position and how long have you worked in financial aid?
Hi everyone! My name is Tabitha Haynes and I am a Financial Aid Advisor in the Office of Scholarships & Financial Aid at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I am one of the “faces” of our office. I get to meet with students daily, answer all of their questions, and be a support figure in their financial aid journeys. While I have only been in my current position for a little over two years, my financial aid experience began while I was still an undergraduate. I was able to work for Nelnet for three years while I was in school and after I graduated. I gained a boatload of knowledge about the federal loan system and it helped in my transition to higher education administration.
Why did you decide to join Leadership Pipeline?
I had the opportunity to attend Summer Institute this year, after graciously being awarded a scholarship through my state association, NeASFAA. It was really a life-changing experience. Before going, I was unsure of whether or not financial aid was going to be my permanent home. SI afforded me the ability to network, learn, and decide that I was going to stay put. When I returned home, I inquired with a colleague who was in Leadership Pipeline this past year and she really encouraged me to apply. LP appeared to be a great “next step” in developing my abilities to help students, and my colleagues.
What is the most valuable thing you’ve learned so far?
I think that the greatest lesson I have learned so far is that we cannot succeed as leaders unless we are brave enough to put ourselves out there. Upon returning from RMASFAA in Fargo, ND, an opportunity presented itself to volunteer as a mentor for a specific scholarship program in Nebraska. I jumped right in. I was unsure of how I could develop this relationship between myself and my mentee, but we clicked right from the start. Actually, the student didn’t want our first meeting to end. I felt so fulfilled that day and walked back to my office with a smile on my face. I have never been so brave to do these things until I came into contact with the colorful and bright leaders in the Pipeline, and I am so happy I did.
What is it that you are hoping to gain at the end of the program? Personal goal? Skill set?
I would love to develop as a leader, which is the whole point, right? I am not currently in a supervisory position, but many of my colleagues come to me with questions or concerns. I am hopeful that by the end of this year I can truly foster those relationships so that we can maximize our success as a team. I think being a leader means that you have the ability to encourage your teammates by finding the strengths within each one of them.
Why would you recommend this program to others?
RMASFAA and the Leadership Pipeline specifically have allowed me to connect with individuals from all different backgrounds and positions. The Leadership Pipeline affords an individual who is passionate about helping students an opportunity to grow professionally so that maybe, that passion can have a larger impact. I really want to empower those around me to be the best financial aid professionals that they can be.