By Thomas Ratliff, MASFAA President
There are some things people get very passionate about. The Super Bowl or NCAA athletic tournaments spark a lot of excitement in many hearts. Talk to a Whovian or Trekkie and you’ll see their passion flash like a Tardis or jump into warp drive. Cooking, gardening, specialty coffee and exotic travel perk high interest for many. And you better set some time aside if you dare ask a friend about their new grandchild!
Passion is a great thing to have. It can drive one toward success in a venture, give a compelling reason to get up every morning and spark others into seeing new possibilities. It can be very contagious and encouraging. Yet passion doesn’t always show up when talking about work though. For those who just have a job, passion hardly ever shines except perhaps in complaint mode. But when someone finds a career, the conversation changes in a very positive way.
Keri Gilbert, Financial Aid Advisor at the University of Missouri-Columbia, has developed a passion for Financial Aid. Kari is MASFAA’s recipient of the 2017 NASFAA Regional Scholarship. This new award was funded by donations made by past NASFAA National Chairs and Presidents in honor of NASFAA’s 50th anniversary celebration last summer. Awards were given to each of the six regional Financial Aid associations to help fund a working Financial Aid professional’s current educational pursuit. The MASFAA Awards Committee solicited applications last month and from the several excellent submissions they received there was one that caught the attention of them all in a unique way. Keri’s passion shined through.
Keri admits that she accepted a job in Financial Aid during a period of unemployment simply “as a way to get my foot in the door”. She shared that she “was prepared to spend six months in financial aid. Tops.” But then, something happened. “I was asked to attend the MASFAA Summer Institute in 2016. I can truly pinpoint that week as the turning point in my financial aid career. I had an absolute blast! I learned a ton and got to meet so many new people. That is the week I fell in love with my job.”
Since then Keri has become actively engaged in her profession. She joined a committee with her state association, MASFAP, and has stepped up to co-present a session at their conference. She is contributing to their Legislative Committee and is helping plan MASFAP’s 50th anniversary celebration. Her professional involvement has quickly grown into contributions at the regional level with MASFAA as well. “I have honestly found my passion, and I want to continue to progress through a career in financial aid.”
“So this is my story: got a job, thought financial aid people were weirdly passionate, became a weirdly passionate financial aid person, found a career I love.”
Weirdly passionate. Many Financial Aid people are indeed weirdly passionate. We have such unique opportunities to help make people’s educational dreams come true. It’s something worth being excited about. Let your passion shine in all you do. Be contagious with your enthusiasm. And if your spark needs a jump start, I encourage you to follow Keri’s path. Take a trip to the MASFAA Summer Institute or Leadership Symposium this summer. It’s your “Passport to Excellence” where a crew of weirdly passionate peers are eager to help spark your career as a Financial Aid professional.