Continuing the Leadership Pipeline series. The eight participants that make up this year’s class will share their experiences about participating in RMASFAA’s professional development program.
When I was looking through my folder of assorted notes, instructions, and schedules from Leadership Pipeline, I found the handout I received on my first day at the RMASFAA Conference in 2016, with my mentor’s picture, biography, and quote. The quote that Brenda Hicks had chosen: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts” by Winston Churchill. That quote really resonated with me this morning, as I drink my coffee and attempt to complete some work before the students wake up, start calling, and try pushing down the door to get into the office. It is the courage to continue that counts. We come in to work every day, not only because we love our jobs, but because we have the courage to continue. We all know that our jobs can be challenge at times. The most valuable thing Leadership Pipeline has given me is a network of colleagues, who have become friends, who can relate to the busy times with students and can provide support. Ironically, most of these people also drink coffee.
I am starting my 5th academic year as a financial aid counselor at Black Hills State University. My path to Leadership Pipeline started at the 2016 SDASFAA Spring Conference. Our Executive Board was really advocating volunteerism. They put these colorful little papers on all the tables, so you could sign up for what committees you wanted to be on. Then they spoke again about what Board positions would be opening up that fall. Up until that point, I had been involved with the regional association, but hadn’t done much at the state level. As the conference went on, I observed that the Treasurer seems to have to speak in front of everyone the least. I thought, I could probably do that job, since it was one of the open positions. I spoke with a couple people about it, and they were incredibly supportive, so I thought I’d send the email after the conference. At the Business Meeting portion of the conference, I actually paid attention, and discovered that SDASFAA offers a scholarship for Leadership Pipeline participants, and mentioned that South Dakota hadn’t had any participants in some time. After listening to Joe Donlay speak about the program during the RMASFAA update, I thought it might be a good learning opportunity, with a potentially new treasurer position. To conclude my already long story, I was offered the Treasurer position on interim in July, and started my official term and my year in Leadership Pipeline in October. It has been an exciting ride of volunteerism. (I also learned that the Treasurer position is quite a bit of work, along with minimal public speaking J )
Brenda Hicks has been a wonderful mentor throughout this process. I give huge kudos to the Leadership Pipeline committee for their ability to match up mentors and mentees. Brenda and I first met in January 2013 at the Summer Institute planning session. We were paired together as roommates, and she helped me create my financial aid super hero name, which sadly, I cannot remember. I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know her and utilizing her expertise. We have many things in common, we are both efficient, sarcastic, and enjoy red wine. I was also fortunate enough to have Brenda as the thought leader for the Association Management Pathway of the NASFAA Leadership & Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C. this past March. We were able to meet before the conference, and enjoy an evening tour of the monuments, and discuss the upcoming sessions. Even though she had a lot going on with her role in the conference, she was always sure to touch base with me about previous sessions, and to see what I had learned.
I would highly recommend this program to anyone who is newly getting involved in their state or regional association, or to anyone who has no idea what to do to get involved. Leadership Pipeline is the platform to see what kind of involvement opportunities are out there. You can hear from mentors who have held every leadership position ever created. Even if you don’t see yourself as the next president-elect, Leadership Pipeline can help you to get more involved on your campus, or even within your own office, heading a financial literacy movement. There is something for everyone, and you will only find yourself wanting to do more. I think that was the biggest thing I was looking to come away with at the end of Leadership Pipeline. I wanted to learn from the best, how to do it all, their full-time jobs, their volunteerism, and their families. The Leadership Pipeline class of 2016-17 did not disappoint.