Submitted by Emily Haynam-Janero, Assistant Director of Compliance and Training, Office of Enrollment Services Student Financial Aid, The Ohio State University
I’m still a toddler as far as my tenure as a financial aid professional goes. I know that, and appreciate that I still have so much yet to learn. What I have learned so far, though, is that MASFAA is the main reason I want to stay in this profession.
Most of us didn’t dream of becoming financial aid professionals. My path to a financial aid office is no different. I needed to get to a specific geographic location due to a family tragedy so I took my first job in aid, leaving behind my original higher education career path of working in athletic compliance. I was secretly hoping there would be the opportunity to hop back over to an athletic department at some point, but then I went to the 2014 MASFAA Summer Institute…
I was genuinely inspired by my faculty as a student at Summer Institute. They not only had a passion to teach us the basics of financial aid but they also went out of their way to get to know us at meals and evening activities. I had never experienced such collegiality at a conference. It didn’t matter what school you were from, everyone was in it together. I immediately felt like I had a “financial aid family,” and it was simply, refreshing.
As a student at Summer Institute, you also have interaction with the participants and faculty for the MASFAA Leadership Symposium that runs in conjunction with Summer Institute. Through a crossover session we were educated on MASFAA’s mission and structure. We were encouraged to fill out the MASFAA volunteer form, as well as volunteer for our state associations. While I was inspired and wanted to get involved, I immediately thought to myself: “I’m not ready, I don’t know enough but maybe once I get more experience I will try to get involved…”
Inspiration and encouragement from the MASFAA leaders I had as faculty won out over self-doubt in my lack of experience. I went ahead and filled out volunteer forms for my state and for MASFAA. I was a self-pay MASFAA member, as the institution I worked for at the time was going through budget cuts and one of those cuts was professional development. I had to be creative in funding my membership and opportunities to go to conferences, and even took on a part-time job to assist in my endeavors. Thankfully, MASFAA has a conference scholarship program that also helped to aid my efforts to get involved.
In the last year and a half, MASFAA leaders have blessed me with the opportunity to get involved. I received the 2014 MASFAA conference scholarship, earned 11 NASFAA credentials, served as faculty for the 2015 MASFAA Summer Institute, presented the 2015 MASFAA pre-conference workshop and received the 2015 MASFAA Outstanding New Professional Award. While I am truly honored by receiving the award, I am most grateful for the mentors MASFAA has afforded me, as well as the opportunities to learn and grow with my financial aid knowledge through volunteerism. I am learning as I go, and I am more confident as a financial aid professional because I have an army of MASFAA colleagues that I can reach out to for guidance, and hopefully return the favor at some point.
So my message to younger financial aid professionals is, jump in! You will never “feel ready.” Fill out the volunteer form, and be willing to learn as you go and know that there are many MASFAA colleagues that are ready and willing to help guide you. Attend conferences, and take a genuine interest in people. Be willing to do whatever is needed to get the job done, even if that is helping setup tables or fold t-shirts. It isn’t easy to put yourself out there, but things that are worth it tend not to be easy. The dividends are not necessarily immediate, but they will show themselves through future opportunities.
My message to veteran financial aid professionals, is that you have no idea the impact you have by getting involved and just saying hello to new professionals. The group of MASFAA faculty that I had have no idea the impact they had on my career, and by default my life. I encourage you to consider being faculty for Summer Institute or the Leadership Symposium. Consider the value in continuing to budget for your employees’ professional development even when faced with challenging economic times, and allowing them to get involved. You never know who may catch a wave of inspiration, and what benefit that may bring to your office!
So thank you to MASFAA for having the Summer Institute program, and thank you to the faculty who went all in to give myself and my fellow classmates a great experience. I am looking forward to continuing to learn from all of you, and give back myself as I serve in this upcoming year as co-chair for the professional development committee. I would be remiss if I didn’t also thank my former institution of Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW – not IUPUI Fort Wayne, Nick!), and my current institution, The Ohio State University, for allowing me to get involved and stay involved.
In closing, I am going to put a plug in for next year’s Summer Institute and Leadership Symposium. Come fly with the Redbirds and a great lineup of MASFAA faculty to hone in on the basics of financial aid, earn NASFAA credentials and build the next wave of inspiration for the future MASFAA leaders!
SAVE THE DATES!
2016 MASFAA Summer Institute and Leadership Symposium to be held:
Date: June 13-17, 2016
Location: Illinois State University