Monday, May 22, 2017

My experience as a MASFAA Exchange Participant by Gisella Baker

I had the privilege of attending the Minnesota State Conference at the Madden’s On Gull Lake in Brainerd, MN recently and I can only say “Wow!” to that experience.  Even before getting to the conference, Meredith Hauer and Dick Battig made sure I was ready to go and experience their awesome northern hospitalityJ  Then Gayle Yamry, as MAFAA President, and her association members made me feel very welcomed and not as an ‘outsider’ during my entire visit.  Thus to all of you, Thank you so much!

The MASFAA Exchange Program allows State Presidents (or state representatives) to experience how another MASFAA state conducts its conferences.  This is not just as a way to “spy” and “borrow” ideas on how to enhance our own state association conference programs, but also as a way to network with other fellow colleagues, absorb more financial aid knowledge, expand leadership relationships and have fun while at it!

I have to congratulate the MAFAA Program and Site committees for putting together a great conference!  The location was so beautiful, relaxed and made the conference flow so well.  The presenters did a great job, including those that did their first NASFAA Credential Course as the pre-conference agenda.  David Bartnicki, the federal trainer, made his presentations very unique and loved how personable, knowledgeable and funny he was.  He even sang and performed for us twice at the end of his general sessions (not to also mention he incorporated financial aid related jokes into his presentations).  A true southern personality!

This visit is another perk that I got to enjoy because once upon a time I had the courage to say “Yes!” to volunteering for my state association and then for MASFAA.  I strongly encourage you to consider volunteering first at whatever you feel comfortable with, and then taking a leap of faith and say “Yes!” when being asked to be put on an elected ballot.  What you receive in return far outweighs the additional time you spend fulfilling volunteering duties, especially the long lasting relationships and friendships near and far.

Thank you IASFAA for electing me as your 2017-18 president!  Thank you MASFAA for sponsoring me to participate in this Exchange Program!  It was a very memorable experience <3

Gisella Baker 
Hawkeye Community College, Waterloo, Iowa
2017-18 IASFAA President
2016-17 MASFAA Awards Chair

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