WyASFAA rocked it the “old school” way at its annual spring conference April 26 and 27 in Casper, WY at Casper College. We had an excellent turnout with 42 attendees and some new presenters to our organization. As has been the case the last few years, we had our annual Hathaway Scholarship Program meeting on April 25, followed by our Financial Aid Directors meeting. During the directors meeting, we were able to collaborate (commiserate) together on challenges we all felt, specifically pertaining to the upcoming GLBA and GDPR requirements. We were fortunate to have a Vice President of Student Services from Laramie County Community College (LCCC), who serves as an advocate for us, join us briefly to help take some of the concerns to the other VPs and hopefully college presidents.
The WyASFAA conference kicked off Thursday morning with some networking and getting physical! Feedback from last year showed interest in an ice-breaking event, so Shannon Eskam of Casper College created and moderated “Human Bingo.” Attendees were given a bingo card with information about various WyASFAA members gleaned from our monthly newsletters in each square. Participants had to find people in the room who matched each fact and get them to initial the square to get a Bingo or blackout. This allowed attendees to get out of their seats and circulate the room. More importantly, it allowed everyone to meet each other in a new, fun way. To tie into the theme, Shannon used an old-school overhead projector to give directions to the attendees.
Natalie Pique from Casper’s Educational Opportunity Center followed the first session with an informative presentation on the services that TRiO can provide, from paying for placement tests to helping complete a FAFSA.
First-time WyASFAA presenter Scott McFarland from Central Wyoming College highlighted some ch-ch-changes we’ve seen with the implementation of Year-Round Pell. His presentation gave some institutional best practices, answered Colleague system questions, and set the tone for the federal update we received later in the conference.
For the first time, we welcomed a remote presenter from Southern Utah University, Jared Hallows, who discussed cybersecurity in financial aid. Jared’s presentation was very informative and provided some great insight into the issues that surround us regarding keeping student information safe.
RMASFAA President Ken Kocer showed us “how all the cool kids are doing it” with his regional update. He shared RMASFAA’s goals and current projects and asked for feedback from our state.
Nick Whipps, Special Populations Coordinator from Casper College, was the last presenter before lunch. Nick discussed his work with the college’s veteran students and how he has worked to ensure their success. He also encouraged all attendees to view the Eyes of Freedom memorial that was on the college campus. This traveling art exhibit is a tribute to the Marines and Navy Corpsman of Lima Company: 23 men who sacrificed their lives and served our nation.
Following lunch and keeping with the jam-packed schedule, Special Agent Sandra Ennis from the Office of Inspector General gave a fascinating presentation with riveting case examples on detecting and deterring financial aid fraud. This was another first for the conference, as an individual from OIG has never joined us before.
Department of Education Trainer Joe Massman joined us next for the “hot topics” update on Year-Round Pell. He provided the legislative background as well as detailed examples of situations we might encounter. We always enjoy having Joe join our group!
Nick Whipps and Kat Bohr-Buresh, both from Casper College, detailed the partnership that Casper College created this year between the Adult Learning Center and International Student Services, and gave tips on engaging and involving these students in various campus activities.
Another first-time presenter was Shelby Garner of Casper College. Following some goals she set for herself stemming from the completion of RMASFAA’s Leadership Pipeline program, Shelby presented on her contribution to implementing a “Tales with Tails” event among the Casper College Financial Aid office, library and the Humane Society. The event helps the FAO meet the literacy requirements for the FWS program, helps develop children’s reading skills, and benefits animals at the Humane Society with socialization skills, hopefully promoting earlier adoption. The results of the pilot program are promising!
Affiliate Member Julie Wilson of Ferrilli Technology Consultants gave an enlightening presentation on data security issues, “A Data Breach Caused the Explosion of the Death Star...” She was able to help explain what the new GLBA audit requirements may include and how to prepare.
Day one ended with members getting crazy at a wonderful dinner and banquet—all 80’s themed, of course—for which our totally tubular group dressed to impress! Susan Stephenson passed the tomahawk (we apparently don’t have gavels in Wyoming) to incoming president Shannon Eskam during the event. Brenda Haseman of the Northern Wyoming Community College District will continue as Treasurer and Shelby Garner of Casper College began her term as Secretary. Scott McFarland of Central Wyoming College is thePresident-Elect.
Friday began with a “Kingdomality” personality profile test from Shannon Eskam that helped the group learn their “place in the Kingdom” and was correlated with how to work with others in the office who may work, think, and act differently than you.
Joe Massman then engaged the group with his Federal Update, providing timely statutory and regulatory updates as well as general program guidance, security reminders, and upcoming training opportunities.
Joanne Theobald of Casper College presented on Mindfulness and Meditation, which was a great way for everyone to “take a chill pill” and learn some techniques on de-stressing by managing their focus.
For the first time in known history, WyASFAA followed RMASFAA’s lead and chose to do a philanthropy project this year rather than exchanging school gifts. Seton House emergency shelter was chosen not only because of their focus on providing assistance to for homeless single parents and their children, but for their focus on education as a means to self-sufficiency. Deanna Frey, Seton House’s Executive Director, joined us at the end of day two to showcase the offerings that the organization provides and to accept the items donated. In all, members donated more than $325 in monetary funds and enough food and household items (including a new vacuum) to fill a van. We are so proud of our state!
The conference wrapped up with the annual Business Meeting, during which we discussed goals we met the past year and new goals we’d like to achieve this upcoming year. Some of these include working on our mission and long-range plan, updating our P&P, and encouraging volunteerism on committees, among others. We have a great group of individuals in the state and we look forward to the year to come! For more conference info, committee reports and tons more photos, go to https://wyasfaa.wixsite.com/wyasfaa/wyasfaa-2018. Scroll down for the gallery and click on individual pics to see both “old school” and “new school” full views of members!
Submitted by Shannon Eskam and Susan Stephenson
WyASFAA President and Past-President
Nick Whipps and
This year we participated in a philanthropy project for Seton House in Casper. Seton House opened on December 5, 1989 as an emergency shelter consisting of three apartments. Since then, it has grown to 30 apartments, a learning center for children's services, and a donation center. Seton House encourages its clients to pursue higher education as a means to a better future for them and their families. Check them out at setonhousecasper.org/. You can also review the Letter from a Board Member, which was written by a colleague of the Casper College staff. The Board Member was asked to share her thoughts about the programs offered at Seton House; her response affirms her belief in the program and shows appreciation for those who choose to donate their time and/or resources to the organization.
WyASFAA members were asked to gather donations from their institutions. Donated items included medicine, household products, food, personal hygiene products, a vacuum, as well as monetary donations. The project was a huge success! At one point, we were nervous that Deanna Frey, Seton House Executive Director, may not have enough room in her vehicle for everything. Luckily, with some savvy "Tetris" skills, everything fit. In addition, monetary donations totaled to over $325!
We are excited that we chose to participate in a philanthropy project instead of school gifts this year. We hope to continue this idea for future conferences, and look forward to helping others. Thank you to all who participated!