Friday, May 29

Applying Pays Off...

I witness every semester how scholarships help you to further your education. I encourage you to do the FAFSA and stress how important it is to apply, Apply, APPLY for scholarships! I was recently given an opportunity to apply for a scholarship myself. I want to share this experience and outcome with you...

This year, the WASFAA (Western Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators) Conference was in Anchorage. Held annually every April, individuals from Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Hawaii and Alaska all gather to discuss various topics relating to Federal Financial Aid. This year the WASFAA organization provided scholarships to individuals who were interested in attending. I was interested in the Conference and I just couldn't (with clear conscious) be hypocritical, not apply, or justify that it wasn't worth a try. On the application I expressed my interest in learning about other Financial Aid Administrators' successful outreach programs, possibly sharing my experiences of financial aid in Western Alaska and my constant desire to become a better financial aid advisor. Excitingly, I was notified the next month that I was selected by my state as the Alaska Scholarship Recipient and thus awarded a scholarship to the Conference!

That led me to participating as a panelist during a session named "College Goal Sunday Redefined", where I spoke about my experiences with FAFSA College Goal Sunday and the various regional Financial Aid outreach events I coordinated in the region. I also was asked to be Moderater in a session regarding the "I'm Going to College" statewide early student awareness program. I was also able to share with others my unique stories, connect with other professionals in the field of Financial Aid and become more informed and educated about the recent Federal Student Aid changes.

With fellow College Goal Sunday panelists Ashley Munro (UAF Financial Aid) and Gianna Thornton (Prince William Sound Community College)

One evening the UAF Inu-Yupiaq dancers came and welcomed the conference participants to Alaska. I joined them in a dance I knew, which originated in Togiak. This made me very proud to represent rural Alaska and the wonderful students I serve.

During one day of the conference there was a WASFAA luncheon. I was able to visit with other University of Alaska Financial Aid staff from across the state.

I was also able to collaborate and connect with other Alaska Financial Aid Advisors! L-R Gianna Thornton (PWSCC), Ashley Munro (UAF), myself and Jaclyn Cabales (Kuskokwim Campus)

In hindsight, I'm very glad I applied for this scholarship. What is significant to me is that it gave me the tools to increase my effectiveness, which directly benefits YOU, the students I work with. I know this is a familiar situation for many of you. You also apply for student aid and scholarships to learn how to be more effective and better yourself. This student aid is also conduit for creating those important connections and memorable experiences, while bettering the situation for your family, your community and most importantly-yourself!
By sharing this scholarship and conference story with you, I hope you find incentive and encouragement to continue applying for scholarships every year. You are incredibly fortunate to have so much student aid available to assist you in continuing your education and reaching your goals. Take advantage of it! Just apply and go for it, you never know until you try. There's help every step of the way.

And hey, if you have a similar scholarship experience, post it as well!

From me to you, happy applying! :)
~Kacey Miller
Regional Education Coordinator, North
NWC Academic and Financial Aid Advisor