Name, title, school, role in MASFAA
Christy Miller, Associate Director of Financial Aid Operations, University of Notre Dame
MASFAA Indiana State Representative (ISFAA President-Elect)
How did you get started in financial aid?
I will have been in Financial Aid for 14 years in June 2016 – all at Notre Dame. After working as a temporary employee in the Notre Dame MBA Admissions Office, I was hooked on higher education and knew that I had figured out what “I wanted to be when I grew up”well, sort of. After being offered an entry level position in both MBA and Financial Aid, I flipped a coin (I was 22, how else was I supposed to choose?!). I was in that entry level customer service role in the Office of Financial Aid for six months before being promoted to the first of five other positions I have held in this office. Now I manage staff in the same position I started in (they hate that they can’t get away with anything!) and find myself a Financial Aid “lifer”.
How did you first become involved in your state and regional associations?
My very first experience with any association (I think) was when my supervisor encouraged me to attend our ISFAA Leadership Symposium where I met two VERY wonderful ladies, Heidi Carl and Sue Allmon, who have served as mentors but more importantly friends in the many years since. It’s kind of a blur since then as I immediately jumped into ISFAA with both feet, serving on and chairing too many committees to list and in between serving on ISFAA Executive Committee as Delegate, Treasurer, and now President-Elect. I have a similar MASFAA involvement story that starts with my nomination to participate in the MASFAA Leadership Symposium. Since, I have served on several Program and Local Arrangements Committees, chaired Awards Committee, and now serve as a liaison for my state to the Executive Board.
Why were you interested in a MASFAA leadership role?
For my role as Indiana State Representative, it “comes with the job” so to speak, however, I look forward to being able to continue to serve MASFAA in many different ways in years to come. Anyone who knows me, knows that being involved in our financial aid associations is very important to me. I believe that participation in our associations at any level is critical to the survival of our profession collectively – we cannot continue to do what we do and deal with what we have to deal with, without supporting each other, networking, growing our experience, and mentoring others.
What have you learned through your state or regional association that you were not expecting?
I think the most surprising thing about my participation in ISFAA and MASFAA is how quickly acquaintances become friends and friends become family. It is so great to be a member of an organization where Ohio State can beat Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl but the next day my friend Emily Haynam-Janero from Ohio State can call me up with a compliance question and I totally ignore her phone call. Just kidding! Of course I answer that phone call because we are all financial aid professionals with the same goal of assisting students in making post-secondary education a possibility (all while dealing with budget and staffing shortages, regulatory burden, etc., etc.).
What advice do you have for someone new to financial aid?
Absolutely do not hesitate to get involved and meet people! Someway, somehow. I cannot stress how much easier your life will be if you have a network of financial aid folks that you can reach out to with questions, concerns, or to bounce ideas off of.
What advice do you have for someone interested in becoming more involved in MASFAA?
This may sound backwards but get involved at the state level first. The more experience and connections you can gain in your state associations, the more you will be able to bring to MASFAA.
What are you looking forward to learning during your leadership term? Or What did you learn during your leadership term?
This is my second year serving on the MASFAA Executive Board but my first as a voting member and I’m really enjoying learning how MASFAA (and the other state associations) structures their leadership as well as things that I can bring back to ISFAA in terms of process improvements and best practices.
What do you enjoy doing when you are outside the aid office?
You mean we get to LEAVE the financial aid office?!!! Leisure time, what a novel idea. Well, I actually love to read (my inner nerd loves fantasy fiction), college football, and cooking (but not baking – too scientific). I have been known to be artsy from time to time (making things sparkle is what I do best). Also, secretly I want to be a wedding planner when I grow up – totally J Lo style!
Any final thoughts?
At the risk of sounding cliché, don’t wait for someone to ask you to serve on a committee. You have to put yourself out there, fill out a volunteer form for your state association or MASFAA, and start growing your professional network. We work way too hard for too little credit and without the mentorship and support that can be found in our associations, our jobs would be much harder and a lot less fulfilling.