Monday, June 15, 2015

MASFAA Leader Spotlight: Susan Swisher

Welcome to another one of our MASFAA Leader Spotlight posts. Throughout the year, we'll try to interview some of the leaders on the MASFAA Executive Council. Next up is MASFAA President-Elect, Susan Swisher, Executive Director of Financial Aid at Saint Xavier University.

As MASFAA President Elect, I serve a one year term commencing at the adjournment of the Annual Meeting and begin the term of President in the following year.  I participate and vote at Executive Council Meetings, contribute to the formulation of Association policies and procedures, assist with other Association activities as needed.  I also serve on the Finance Committee, Nominations and Elections Committee and Association and Governance and Planning Committee.  

How did you get started in Financial Aid?

I was in my final semester at University of Iowa taking one class and realized I needed to get a job. As it turned out ACT was in need temporary help and I was hired.  At the time ACT had the contract for federal processing very similar to what we know today as the CPS.  This temporary job lead to a permanent job and I was there until the contract ran out.  Not knowing what to do next, I ended up back in Chicago and was hired as a Financial Aid Advisor at DeVry.

How did you first become involved in your state and regional associations?

I got involved at the state level by volunteering to serve on the Training and Professional Development Committee with ILASFAA.  This led to eventually chairing several committees within the association, then serving on the Executive Board as Chicago Regional Coordinator, Treasurer (twice) and President.  It was when I was President that I became involved in MASFAA and served on Executive Council as the Illinois representative.

Why were you interested in a MASFAA Leadership Role?

I became interested in serving MASFAA in a leadership role after my experience as the Illinois Representative.  This led to me serving as MASFAA Treasurer Elect and Treasurer.  During that time I learned more about the association’s goals and objectives and the value of networking with colleagues in the region.   This experience led me to realize that I wanted the opportunity to give back to our profession.

What advice do you have for someone interested in becoming more involved in MASFAA?

First, I encourage you to learn everything you can about the association.  You can start volunteering on a committee or considering becoming a moderator for conference session.  Be sure to take the opportunity to network with your colleagues as I have found that networking was key to my development.  Finally, let it be known that you are interested in becoming more involved.  

What have you learned through your state or regional association that you were not expecting?

I think the main thing that I was not expecting is the friendships that were formed with my colleagues I worked with at both the regional and state level.  Prior to my involvement, I always had this picture that those involved were a part of a clique that was hard to become a part of.  Once involved, I learned that was not the case and I have developed many close relationships with others that I call for advice and/or a good laugh.

Any final thoughts? 

For those that are not actively involved in MASFAA, please consider getting involved.  You will find it a worthwhile investment of your time and professional growth.  It is exciting to be a part of the development of the association’s long term strategic plan as we promote training, professional development and advocate to support financial aid programs for the students we serve.

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