By Dylan Pichnarcik
What is your educational and professional background?
I have a bachelor’s and a master’s degree, both from Clark University. My bachelor’s is in communications and my master’s is in professional communications. For my professional background, I started in higher education doing fundraising at WPI [Worcester Polytechnic Institute]. Then I got a job as assistant director of financial aid at Clark University in 2010 - that’s where my financial aid career started and I did that for about two-and-a-half years. It was a private, high cost, four-year traditional residential liberal arts campus. … Then in June of 2012, I became a senior financial aid counselor at Quinsigamond Community College, a public two-year school. I was a counselor for another five years. I was then promoted into two different associate director roles. The first one was in 2017 and I was director for another six years, that was when I started managing staff. Now I'm here as director. I really like public higher education and can get behind that mission more than very high cost high-class schools.
What drew you to FSU?
I wanted to stay within the public sector for affordability and for the value of education. I really missed the traditional four-year college campus feel. So I feel it was a combination of both my previous institutions, and I was taking pieces that I liked most about both of them. And it all came together here.
What do you hope to accomplish in your new role as Director of Financial aid?
The FAFSA simplification for 2024-25 is launching sometime next month, so learning the changes and being able to educate others about it. Also updating our [financial aid award] packaging for 2024-25 to make sure that we’re leveraging as a recruiting tool. We’re getting a lot of funding from the state, they have recently increased their higher education funding. … Also with [the] FAFSA simplification, the Pell Grant is expected to increase by 30 - 40%. … So we are going to have to look at how we package financial aid. I am going to start implementing the 2024-25 FAFSA changes and packaging, and then I will be making sure we’re using it as a recruitment tool to increase enrollment.
What is your favorite part about FSU?
I really like the diversity on campus. It is actually much more diverse than I realized - which is great to see! All of the staff have been very friendly, and I think the high level administrators' hearts are in the right place, they are very pro-students. There are a lot of changes happening right now with the new president. I think she has a great vision for the school. I really appreciate the strong leadership here.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I like to travel and spend time outdoors hiking and exploring different national parks. My favorite is Zion National Park. I like to cook and spend time with my family - I have two kids and a husband!