Monday, May 23, 2016

Summer Institute Testimonial

by Gena Boling, SI Faculty 2016

Associate Director of Student Financial Aid, University of Missouri


Picture this, June 2011. St. Louis, Missouri. It was hot – historic temperatures indicate it was around 97 degrees in June. I just remember sweating – a lot. Sounds like a grand location to lay the building blocks of a financial aid career.

I had been in financial aid for just a few months and received a scholarship from MASFAP to attend the MASFAA Summer Institute to immerse myself in financial aid knowledge. It would be my first experience with the regional association at a time when I still had very little knowledge of the state association. I didn’t know what to expect. But, I knew I had to go.

I was working at Stephens College at the time, and the financial aid director left a few months prior, leaving the two remaining staff in the office to our own devices. MASFAA Summer Institute seemed like a perfect solution to the problem of training – one week, tons of topics, walk away with knowledge it would have taken weeks, if not months to get around to training on in the office. My administration was supportive, so I packed my bags and drove to St. Louis to spend a week with a few of my closest financial aid friends, whom I technically hadn’t met yet.

Summer Institute was scheduled to begin bright and early on a Monday morning, so I arrived at the hotel Sunday evening and anxiously awaited the start of the program. Nervous as could be, I arrived about twenty minutes early to my first session and found I was alone in a room with the Chair of the MASFAA Summer Institute Committee, Candi Frazier (West Virginia). I remember wearing green and I remember Candi rushing up to me to introduce herself – I think I’ll forever be known to her as the first person to arrive to Summer Institute, and that’s okay with me. I’ve admired Candi’s work in financial aid and in MASFAA since that moment and am pleased she remembers who I am, at all.

Financial aid administrators from all across the region began to pile into the room, eager to soak up information like sponges and we weren’t disappointed. Several days of intense training, homework and review each night, mixed with plenty of time for networking and getting to know each other, including one very warm cookout in Pam Fowler’s backyard – it was an excellent week. Let me tell you, no one can teach an EFC hand-calculation like Pam Fowler (Michigan) and when you walk away from that session, you know how to do it – you’ve learned from the best.

So, this is heavy material and the information is packed in tightly so that when you end your week with MASFAA, you are prepared to return to your office as a knowledgeable resource on a variety of financial aid topics. That being said, MASFAA Summer Institute faculty are engaging and fun and turn what could be dry material into interesting learning opportunities. For example, how many times have you seen Vickie Crupper (Michigan) in her pajamas teaching a course on PJs?

Since my time at Summer Institute, I have served on the boards of both our state and regional associations, volunteered hours of time to both associations, and loved every minute of it. I have widened my network of colleagues and count many MASFAA members among friends. And now, five years later, I have the opportunity to return to Summer Institute as a faculty member. I couldn’t wait to tell Candi Frazier when I saw her at the FSA Conference this past fall – she was instrumental in building my foundation. I hope you’ll consider joining me in June on the Illinois State University Campus for a week of intense financial aid training. Who knows where your foundation will take you!

Click on the following link for more information and to register for the 2016 MASFAA Summer Institute!    http://www.masfaaweb.org/docs/toc_training.html

Gena Boling
2016 MASFAA Summer Institute Faculty

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