Distinguished Service Award – Shauna Savage


Continuing with our 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 next post in this series features Shauna Savage, Assistant Director of Financial Aid at Montana Tech. 

Shauna Savage

Can you tell me a little about your current position and something fun about you?

I am the Assistant Director of Financial Aid at Montana Tech.  Some of my responsibilities are managing our scholarship program, being the funky-tech for Banner, and supervising two of the best and hardest workers I know.

My first RMASFAA was in Wichita, KS.  There was a group that drove from Montana and to say the trip was epic is an understatement.  We still have great laughs over all the crazy things that happened.  We made wonderful memories and I’m a little sad that we won’t have a repeat this time around.

How did you get involved in Financial Aid?

When I was in my sophomore physics class at Montana Tech, my professor handed me a sticky note that said I had to go to see the Director of Financial Aid in the Financial Aid Office.  I had no idea why I was asked to do so but at the end of the meeting, I was offered a work-study position.  I guess it was a good fit since twenty plus years later I’m still in the business.

Can you tell me about your experiences with RMASFAA?  

I have served on the RMASFAA Board as the Montana delegate, the Membership Chair, the Electronic Initiatives Committee Chair, and now on the Leadership Pipeline Chair.  I have also served on the Association News Committee, Conference Planning Committees, and Conference Program Committees.  I enjoyed each area that I served as it really allowed you to get to know people in the association better and to have a better understanding of all the amazing opportunities that RMASFAA provides to its members.

What did (and does) this award mean to you especially since a few years have passed?

It reminds me that good teamwork and perseverance help you reach your goal.

Do you have any relationships with other Distinguished Service Award recipients?

There are many other Distinguished Service Award recipients that I have served on the RMASFAA Board with, become friends with, and reach out to when I have a question, need support, or am looking for mentors for Leadership Pipeline.  However, the one that stands out to me is Terri Gruba.  She has been a great mentor, biggest cheerleader, and a dear friend.

What has been the best moment of your career so far?

I have lots of great moments from the student who learns to complete their FAFSA on their own to seeing them graduate and move on to successful careers or the relief and gratefulness that a family or student has when they realize that they can afford to pursue their higher education dreams.  I think that is why most of us truly enjoy our work.

The one moment that stands out to me personally was being recognized as Montana’s Financial Aid Professional of the Year in April.  It was so unexpected and the way my campus responded to the announcement was really overwhelming.

What’s next for you? (Personally or Professionally)

I’m going to take a little hiatus from volunteering professionally, except for the RMASFAA Conference in Montana in 2019, and use the extra time to spend with my youngest daughter.  She is a freshman in high school and, now that my oldest has graduated, I know that no one can prepare you for how fast it goes!

Dani Reynolds
Association News Committee – Newman University

Dani

Distinguished Service Award-Terri Gruba


Continuing with our 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 third post in this series features Terri Gruba, our favorite retiree!

Terri's picture

You know, it will be three years since I retired.  My family encouraged me (strongly!) to retire so we could do some traveling on our schedule–not my work schedule. I truly struggled with the decision because I thought (and still think) RMASFAA was so important to me. Our profession is an honorable one and it is so important to encourage talented people to join and continue in the profession.  RMASFAA is key to that knowledge basis and encouragement to others. I was so humbled and gratified by the Distinguished Service Award. I remember so clearly that night, and I carried it clutched to my bosom throughout the night (I was not going to have it snatched out of my hands!) I was told growing up that if you can “do” something for others, then you must “do” it. The award certainly encouraged me to continue “doing” for RMASFAA. However, I have received much more from RMASFAA and my colleagues than I ever gave. Fortunately (for me–maybe not for others), I still have cell phone numbers of my RMASFAA peeps, and I am on Facebook, so I am still in contact with so many. Truly, I am so lucky to have been (and still am) part of this wild and wonderful family called RMASFAA.

RMASFAA is so important to me that I am still a member!  We retirees can be members and get a great deal on the membership cost.  It is such a good deal that I certainly could not pass it up.  So there!

When I asked Terri if there was one piece of advice or insight that she would share with a future financial aid professional, she said the following:

Reach out. You are not on island–whether you are in a one-person office or in a big office with lots of bodies. To the day that I retired, I was in contact with folks in my office, in my state, in my region and across the nation. Heck, I am still in contact with my financial aid peeps to this day! We cannot do this job by ourselves, we need each other. Fortunately, I do not think anyone who asked advice, help, for a shoulder to lean on, were ever turned away.

Before this post, I had only ever heard of Terri in passing in which people would describe this charismatic woman who was retired, but still attended and participated in all things financial aid. People would tell me that she would have you laughing one second and the next she would have you convinced to participate on a committee, help plan an event or just have you participate in a fun ice breaker when a second ago you did not want to. Coincidentally Terri herself describes this is as her not so secret talent.

Alora Blue
Association News Committee-Montana

Leadership Pipeline: Dani Reynolds


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.

Susan and I at 2016 RMASFAA
Susan and I at the 2016 RMASFAA Conference

What is your current position and how long have you worked in financial aid?

I am a Financial Aid Counselor at Newman University.  I have worked in financial aid since October 2015.

Who is your Leadership Pipeline mentor and describe your relationship with them.

My mentor is Susan Stephenson of Eastern Wyoming College.  

Despite her being a cat person to my dog person, we have built a wonderful friendship!  She greeted me at the 2016 RMASFAA Conference with the cutest outfit for my son who was born a few months later. Her generosity doesn’t just extend to gifts for cute babies. She’s always willing to offer support and I always look forward to our monthly check-ins.  

Why did you decide to join Leadership Pipeline?

I learned about Leadership Pipeline at Summer Institute and thought it sounded like fun. I was still pumped up from SI and wanted to get involved. At the time, Leadership Pipeline was happening every other year and I didn’t want to miss my opportunity. I’m so thrilled that they’re starting a new class at the upcoming RMASFAA Conference.

What is the most valuable thing you’ve learned so far?

I love hearing what other challenges people are facing to see what we have in common. The longer I work in financial aid, the easier it is to find solutions or point at a resource that could help. Having a good network of people is wonderful for when I get stumped and they are able to do the same for me.

What is it that you are hoping to come away with at the end of the program? 

I have loved Leadership Pipeline and I’m definitely coming away with everything I hoped for.  The call with all of the mentors and mentees is a highlight of my month. I’ve had several light-bulb moments during calls where I need to implement something immediately.  

Why would you recommend the Leadership Pipeline program to others?

I would recommend Leadership Pipeline to anyone wants to stay in financial aid for the long term and get involved. I would especially like to recommend Leadership Pipeline if you are on the fence because you feel like you’re really busy but you want to participate anyway. I almost didn’t apply because I was having a baby a few months after our Leadership Pipeline year together began and didn’t know just how busy I would be after he was born. I am SO glad that I did. I even hope to be on the other side as a mentor someday.