• March 02, 2021 9:03 AM | Andrew Hammontree

    It’s been one year since I last went inside a grocery store, thirteen months since I last flew on an airplane, and a lifetime since I last attended an in-person event with my financial aid colleagues. I’m not sure what “normal” means anymore (and I’m not sure I ever did). But I would be happy if life could return to some sense of predictability.

    In a year full of isolation, I have come to appreciate meaningful relationships with my family, friends, and co-workers. Without the support of the financial aid community and our professional associations, I’m not sure how I would have navigated through the often-conflicting CARES Act guidance. I’m lucky to have a group of trusted colleagues that I can call on when I need to ask a question or vent about an overly burdensome regulation. But not everyone has that advantage.

    To combat the isolation of the pandemic and to promote the professional development of its members, SWASFAA is launching a new mentoring program. This program will allow for one-on-one interactions with mentors and mentees. Anyone who’s a current member of SWASFAA is welcome to participate by filling out the attached application and returning it to me by Friday, March 5th.

    This is great opportunity for anyone who is new to financial aid, wants to grow their leadership skills, or is interested in making a new friend. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at andrew.hammontree@francistuttle.edu. I look forward to hearing from you!

    Andrew Hammontree

    SWASFAA Leadership Development Chair

    SWASFAA Mentoring Program Application.pdf

    Information on the SWASFAA Mentoring Program.docx

  • January 08, 2021 10:59 AM | Anonymous

    Hello SWASFAA friends! I hope this finds you doing well in the midst of the chaos that is January. I created a blog post just prior to Christmas as a sort of soft launch for Board members and Committee Chairs – namely to ensure I did it right! – and now that it seems to be working as designed, I want to make sure that all SWASFAA members know about it. If you’d like to subscribe to get automatic updates, please do!

    The 2021 SWASFAA Board will be meeting on January 25th and 26th, via everyone’s favorite format, Zoom. As I prepare for the meeting, I want to make sure that the things I convey to the Board, I convey to the membership at large as well.

    First of all, if you would like to view the 2020 Virtual Academy sessions, they are now available on the 2020 Conference Presentations page. After you are logged in with your SWASFAA user name and password, you’ll find YouTube videos and PowerPoint presentations there for your reference. I apologize for this taking so long. One of the new skills I’ve now picked up is how to convert a Zoom recording into an edited YouTube video.

    Second, we have big plans for 2021!

    • We are looking into our options for training opportunities throughout the year, so if you have an idea for a topic, a presenter, or both, please let me know.
    • Finding ways to connect, for both professional training and growth and personal development needs to remain a high priority. We’re all busy, sometimes overwhelmingly so, but we not only have to stay current to remain relevant and compliant, but we can’t ignore personal connections in our busyness. Those are even more important now since our virtual/remote lives may continue for the foreseeable future.
    • The SWASFAA Policies and Procedures manual needs a comprehensive review and update, which will be a project that we’ll carry on through the entire year.
    • Maintaining this blog with relevant and helpful information is one of my goals for the year, not only to communicate with membership, but to engage with you all in a method we haven’t tried in a while.
    • We’re optimistically planning for an in-person Boot Camp and Conference in beautiful Albuquerque in November 2021. We fully realize that it will look different than anything we’ve ever done before, and that’s OK. If 2020 did nothing else, it reminded us how adaptable and flexible we have to be.
    • And more through the year.

    It certainly looks like 2021 is going to be another year in which we are tested, both on personal and professional fronts. Whether we’re talking about the continued pandemic and its affects, the federal omnibus (or Coronabus, as today’s NASFAA Off the Cuff called it) legislation that was passed just prior to Christmas and all the changes that will bring, political transitions that will bring change to all of us, and all the things that “etc.” can entail, we all have choices to make. Agree with them or not, the way in which we respond to these changes provides an opportunity to learn something new, to see things from a different perspective, to find a way to respectfully voice an opinion, to seek out innovation, to grant grace, and to receive grace. I encourage you to do all of these things, even when it is so hard to do. Especially when it is so hard to do.

    One of the things I treasure most about associational involvement is the way we work together. We work best when we keep in mind that our jobs demand that we serve our students and families, but also that our lives becomes richer when we’ve worked to help one another. We serve to strengthen one another through our connections, our communications, our networking. These are invaluable, and if you’ve never gotten involved at the associational level, I cannot encourage you enough to give it consideration.

    It may be another tough year, who knows? But along the way, I am grateful for being on the journey with each of you as we work together toward our common goals.

    Mendy Schmerer, SWASFAA President

  • December 22, 2020 12:22 PM | Anonymous

    SWASFAA friends, as this tumultuous year of 2020 draws to a close, I won’t take your time in attempting to rehash the ups and downs of this singular year. Suffice it to say that 2020 has brought with it stresses of the unexpected and the unknown, but it also brought opportunities for growth, experimentation, and new experiences, both positive and negative.

    As we soon see 2020 in our collective rearview mirrors and greet 2021 with a cautious sense of optimism, I want to relaunch the SWASFAA blog to stay in touch with you all. Several years ago and on our old web platform, we had a blog that allowed the SWASFAA President the chance to keep the membership updated in terms of SWASFAA events, travel experiences, reflections on changes to our industry, and anything else that seemed relevant and interesting. I’d like to do the same!

    We will all no doubt be striving to adapt to continued changes, both personal and professional. While obstacles will come, difficulties will arise, I believe this is our time to demonstrate our strengths. We wouldn’t have made it in financial aid very long if we weren’t adaptable, flexible people whose very natures are prone to helping others. And whether those people are our students, our staff, or one another, it’s simply part of what we do.

    SWASFAA and those who serve as Board members or Committee Chairs are here for you. We want to hear what we’re doing well, where we need to step up, and what new ideas you have. In October and November, we successfully adapted our annual boot camp and conference events to a virtual format and for 2021 we’re looking at new ways to deliver training opportunities, networking events, and other ways to stay connected and learn from one another.

    Be safe, stay healthy, enjoy the winter break, and for whatever you celebrate, happy and merry to them all!

    Mendy Schmerer

    SWASFAA President 2020 – 2021

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