Monday, March 9, 2015

New & Aspiring Aid Director's Pathway: Betsy

We had several MASFAA members attend the new track added to the NASFAA Leadership and Legislative Conference and Expo this year, titled the New and Aspiring Aid Director's Pathway. This is the first of two posts from those in our regional association who attended this track.

by Betsy Henkel, Illinois State University

I recently attended NASFAA’s Leadership and Legislative Conference under the New and Aspiring Aid Directors track. I was encouraged by my office’s current Director of Financial Aid to attend the conference so that I could learn more about what being an aid director meant and to see if it was for me. Prior to the conference, I thought Directors of Financial Aid had to be the ultimate Financial Aid guru—an expert in federal regulations, compliance, and systems. Within the first session with Ron Day, I was surprised to learn that this is actually a very small portion of a Director’s responsibility. Throughout the rest of the sessions, I had the opportunity to listen to new and experienced aid directors and discuss how to manage employees, how to offer better service to our students, and how to foster a positive relationship with other offices on campus. I currently have limited supervising experience so I found the sessions regarding an aid director's role as a boss particularly insightful and valuable for my career’s path. My biggest takeaways from the conference are:

  • If I wish to see change in my office or on my campus, I must lead by example. 
  • Being a good DFA isn’t achieved through micromanaging or focusing on making the office perfect; its more about creating an environment where all people—students, employees, and colleagues—can feel comfortable and able to focus on what really matters: our students. 

Overall, I enjoyed not only the opportunity to learn and set career goals for myself but also the opportunity to network and visit with my colleagues.

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