Wyoming financial aid administrators were Feelin’ the Love at the WyASFAA annual conference April 27-28, 2017 in Cheyenne. Despite Wyoming’s usual late spring snow that delayed some arrivals and a falling rock event (no, really!), we had 34 attendees and enjoyed a day and a half of great sessions by WyASFAA members and guest presenters.
The annual Hathaway Scholarship Meeting on April 26 served as our pre-conference event. Institutional Hathaway Coordinators, financial aid directors and other staff met with Education Consultants from the Wyoming Department of Education’s Hathaway Scholarship Program to discuss best practices and learn about new legislation impacting the program. Staff from Wyoming’s Community College Commission also participated in the event.
The main conference started with a discussion about dealing with conflicting info; Nicole Castillon from Western Wyoming College moderated the Crazy About That 399 Code session, but put her audience at ease by providing bubbles. Just like a bubble is temporary—it pops and is gone—the 399 Code is only around for one year.
Next, Kelcie Hamilton and Susan Stephenson, both from Eastern Wyoming College, presented general info, best practices and specific school examples during Infatuated with Consumer Info. They tried to lighten the mood of such a heavy topic with funny videos and memes. Both presenters have NASFAA U credentials in Consumer Info.
We were delighted to welcome guest presenter Joe Donlay, Past-President of RMASFAA, again this year. Joe used his stellar presentation skills and calming tone to make us all Starry-Eyed over SULA.
Following lunch, guest presenter Tammy Shroeder shared her passion for high quality education by giving an upbeat interpretation of Gazing Ahead at the Future of Education in Wyoming. Tammy provided a broad perspective on the state’s education — she’s been a classroom teacher, previously worked for the state Department of Education, was recently elected to the Albany County School Board, has a daughter participating in the Fulbright exchange program and just completed law school herself.
After a morning of heavy topics, Julie Wilson from Laramie County Community College lightened the mood in the afternoon with her Five Love Languages of the Workplace. Her colleague and GEAR UP Program Manager at LCCC joined us the following morning for FA Loves GU, a session on how the GEAR UP program helps their students and financial aid administrators .
Joe Massman, Training Officer for the U.S. Department of Education, gave attendees the gift of a Heart-Shaped Box of Assorted Title IV Topics. We were delighted to have Joe participate for the whole conference, contributing insight and answering questions during other sessions, partaking in our evening award banquet and providing a second session, Feeling a Fondness for a Federal Update, during the last day of the conference.
RMASFAA President Vicki Kucera shared her passion for RMASFAA, encouraging members to become active in volunteering and participating in all of the great things RMASFAA has to offer such as Summer Institute, annual conference, and Leadership Pipeline. She gave updates on what she and her Board have been working on so far this year. We were pleased Vicki came for the whole conference to contribute her ideas and to share her experience with us.
The first day ended with the awards banquet and the traditional “passing of the tomahawk” (we apparently don’t use gavels in Wyoming…) to the new officers. Susan Stephenson from EWC took over as president from Julie Wilson; Brenda Haseman from the Northern Wyoming Community College District is giving DeeAnna Archuleta from Western Wyoming College a break from Treasurer Duties, and Tasha Plumb from Central Wyoming College is continuing for another year as Secretary.
The day-and-a-half conference ended with the annual Business Meeting. Members agreed that they have a lot of work to do this year to get back on track after a difficult year with budget cuts, staff and association member turnover, and a general loss of focus. Some of our goals for the year are to look at our mission to see if it is still appropriate to our organization, then creating a Strategic Long-Range Plan. We also need to revise our Bylaws, a task that has been on the “to-do list” for several years, and align WyASFAA’s P&P with the revised bylaws. We plan to continue with and enhance our Wyoming High School Counselors Workshop, revise our website, look for ways to encourage and retain associate members, and remain a strong, viable state association.
Susan Stephenson, WyASFAA President