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 Jim Brooks. He got his start in financial aid in September 1987 as a financial aid counselor at Indiana University. According to Jim, it was "totally accidental." He had received his master's degree in sociology and wasn't sure what he wanted to do. He believed what he had learned in his sociology program might be compatible with the counseling aspect of the financial aid position, so he took the job. He thought he would do it for a couple years, and then go into whatever might be his true profession, but as it turned out, the financial aid office was a great fit.
He has previously served on NASFAA's Staff Training & Professional Development Committee, as a Standards of Excellence reviewer, on the Ethics Commission, and on NASFAA's Board of Directors. In 2015, Jim was asked to serve as NASFAA's inaugural diversity officer; as such, he holds a seat on NASFAA's Association Governance Committee. Jim is currently also a member of the Leadership & Legislative Conference & Expo task force.
What's on your desk right now?
Lots of paperwork stacked in some semblance of order. Information on the PROSPER Act. Two books: "Game of Loans" by Beth Akers and Matthew Chingos, and "Measuring Success – Testing, Grades, and the Future of College Admissions," edited by Jack Buckley, Lynn Letukas, and Ben Wildavsky.
What was the best thing that happened to you this past week?
I got to spend some time with just our financial aid counselors. My schedule is such that doesn't happen much, so I really enjoyed the opportunity.
Something I wish I knew my first year working in financial aid:
How much of a long-term impact an education provides. I knew it was important but never realized how life-changing it is.
If you could have three wishes granted, what would they be?
1. That the federal and state governments would better recognize the importance of education and fund it better.
2. That as a country we would learn to better appreciate each other and the cultural mosaic that makes us stronger.
3. That Justin Draeger would eventually run for political office—not in a big hurry, but sometime in the future. (You heard it here first.)
Do you have a New Year's resolution?
I resolved to actually take a vacation this year and not do any work during that time. I've not done anything like that for probably 20 years, so I'm not sure I can pull it off.
What's one thing you love about working at the University of Oregon?
I work with great people in a beautiful part of the country. That makes all of the difference in the world.
One thing I would like to change about the current financial aid system is:
The annual requirement to file a FAFSA. For certain groups of students, it is an impediment and unnecessary.
One thing I can't live without is:
My family. They keep me grounded and motivated.
What's one great or helpful thing a coworker or coworkers have done recently?
My team talked me into having my picture taken wearing a multi-colored Mohawk wig. They're helping me be less serious and to have fun at work, something I've never been good at.
Want to say hello to Jim 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: 1/24/2018