Monday, May 11, 2015

State Exchange Update: Missouri to Minnesota

(by Angela Karlin, Missouri Representative)

Hello MASFAA friends! I hope you all surviving this exciting time of year. I just returned from the Minnesota conference feeling rejuvenated and with the traditional things to check on list we all make at conferences.

First, I would like to thank MASFAA and MAFAA for the opportunity to travel to Minnesota for their spring conference. The location, Madden’s on Gull Lake, is absolutely beautiful. Even with the occasional rain shower and clouds, the lake was gorgeous and the resort is wonderful.

The conference kicked off with a keynote by Katy Smith, MN teacher of the year from 2011. She had us laughing as she talked about being engaged in the communities we belong to in our personal and professional lives. I took many things away from her talk. I learned about “tater tot hot dish”….hot dish is comparable to a casserole where I live! She also shared the phrase “pleasantly bossy”. Someone asked her if she was a teacher. When she asked why, the person said because you are “pleasantly bossy.” As a take-charge kind of girl and a first-born, I like pleasantly bossy much better than some other words my siblings have used to describe me!

As an early childhood and parent educator, Katy talked about the dreams that her young charges have. She said that she “would give us dreamers” and was excited to meet the people that help them achieve their dreams in the future as financial aid professionals. It is nice to be reminded we do help make dreams come true for our students. We all laughed as she shared stories with us and ended her talk with “silly human tricks”. We divided into groups and nominated a person from each group that possessed a special skill (I use that term loosely) and those folks got to perform their trick on stage. I saw some interesting tricks….let’s just say some things are best left in Minnesota so as to not embarrass some of our friends!

I attended sessions led by colleagues and Kim Wells, Department of Education trainer. I gained new information and added to my to-do list of things to double-check on for SAP, consumer information and verification. During each session, I was reminded of how all of us strive to be compliant with rules and regulations while providing great customer service and getting our students to the finish line.

On Thursday evening, President M.E.G. Calbrese, by royal proclamation (she was wearing a tiara, so royal is the right word!), had us all dress in our finest garb and attend the awards banquet. One group of young ladies had wrist corsages and dubbed the evening MAFAA prom! The meal was wonderful and award recipients were honored by their peers for outstanding service to MAFAA.

My dear friend and colleague, Sara Edwards, was honored with the MAFAA Special Recognition award. The award is for a person affiliated with the financial aid community other than a practicing financial aid administrator who has consistently provided outstanding service to MAFAA in recent years. Sara is from my home state of Missouri and has been a special part of my life and career for the last 13 years. I was so excited to be able to share this evening with her! She had no idea about the award and was speechless at the podium.

Sue Swisher also gave her MASFAA update at the banquet. Sue encouraged us to get involved with the region and shared the conference video for the October conference in Coralville, Iowa.

As I prepare to leave beautiful Gull Lake, I want to thank you all again for the opportunity to attend the conference. I hope to see you all at MASFAA in October! 


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