MVP: Most Valuable Professional is an occasional series that features a brief Q&A with a different NASFAA member. Do you know a financial aid colleague with something interesting to say? Send the names of potential future MVPs and a short note about why you're nominating them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meet Brad Barnett, senior associate director of financial aid & scholarships at James Madison University. Brad started his career in financial aid while working his way through graduate school in 1994-95 as a graduate assistant in Virginia Commonwealth University's Financial Aid Office. "After graduating, I left to pursue a career within the field of my degree, but decided I enjoyed working in financial aid more, so I returned to the VCU aid office on a full-time basis. The rest, as they say, is history," Brad said. After a few years, Brad moved on to his current institution, James Madison University. He currently serves as Treasurer of NASFAA's Board of Directors.
What’s on your desk right now?
Computer, stress ball, water bottle, iPad, jar with protein bars, office phone, a “prayer box” one of my sons made me years ago, superhero coffee mug with pens, car keys, cell phone, and a few miscellaneous papers.
One thing working in financial aid has taught me:
We all have the ability to positively impact someone’s life…we just have to pay attention to the opportunities as they arise. I feel blessed to be in a profession that allows me to do that day in and day out.
How does your boss support or encourage your work in the professional association?
The words empower and trust come to mind. I have a great boss (Lisa Tumer) who encourages me to get involved, empowers me to get involved, and trusts me to be involved while still getting my “day job” done. She also understands the value that being involved in a professional organization brings to our office and school, so she’s quick to encourage my participation. Lisa is the best!
If you won $1 million, what would you spend it on?
After Uncle Sam takes his cut I’d probably help finish out an orphanage our church is helping to build in Peru. My wife really wants a beach house, so even though I’m not a huge beach fan, I think we’d do something along those lines as long as it could also be an income producing rental property as well.
Biggest financial aid change I’ve seen in my career:
There are many, but it’s hard not to put the October 1 FAFSA filing date and prior-prior year right at the top of the list.
My favorite thing about my job is:
The people in the office and the students. We have a great group of folks in the JMU aid office. I also teach personal finance and I absolutely love being in the classroom and having the opportunity to connect with students in a different way.
Glad I did it but wouldn’t do it again:
My oldest son talked me into riding the Top Thrill Dragster roller coaster at Cedar Point Amusement Park with him. One time...that's it!
Can’t live without:
Activity. Whether it’s golfing, skiing, obstacle course racing, exercising, or just going for a walk…there has to be activity.
Something I wish I knew my first year working in financial aid:
It would have been wise to start a PhD when I first got into the business. I wish I had known then the value of getting started. With the age of my kids now and my teaching commitments (in addition to my “day” job), I’m not sure I can swing the time at this stage of my life without sacrificing some things I don’t want to give up. However, looking back, it would have been very doable then.
My idea of a perfect day:
Snow skiing with my boys in the morning. Playing golf after the skis are put away. Then, going to a movie with my family, followed up by a family dinner at Franco’s Pizza in Harrisonburg and Blizzards at Dairy Queen for dessert.
What part of your daily routine do you enjoy most?
Going to the gym at lunch. I get grumpy if I don’t exercise. Seriously, it’s a great stress reliever and I simply feel better for doing it.
Want to say hello to Brad or reply to something he said? Please leave your remarks in the comments section below. You can also take a look back at our past MVPs to read any you missed the first time around.
Do you know a financial aid colleague with something interesting to say? Send the names of potential future MVPs and a short note about why you're nominating them to email@example.com.
Publication Date: 10/31/2016