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 email@example.com.
Meet Elizabeth Milam. Her career in financial aid began 30 years ago when she applied for a financial aid counselor position at her alma mater, Clemson University, "simply because it had 'counselor' in the title and I was completing a master’s in counseling," Elizabeth said. Over the years, she steadily progressed from counselor to assistant director, associate director, and senior associate director before stepping into her current role as director of financial aid. "I have never been bored a single day of my career, and I'm always shocked when co-workers start leaving at the end of the day! How many people can say that?" she asked.
Elizabeth sat on NASFAA's Cost of Attendance Construction Working Group, has participated in several Angoff Studies on NASFAA U credentials, and took part in a NASFAA focus group that studied the need for a NASFAA peer review of schools' consumer information.
What’s one thing you love about working at Clemson?
The best thing about working at Clemson is the people. I have the best staff in the world. We work incredibly hard, but we have fun every day. We love and support each other.
How my friends describe me:
I think my friends would describe me as caring, present, and loyal, with a good sense of humor. And I’ve heard that I have a great laugh.
How my colleagues would describe me:
My colleagues know that I’m always available to talk shop, but many of these relationships have gone much deeper. Some of my best friendships were forged in the financial aid world. I think they would describe me as passionate, a peacemaker, and someone who likes to build up others.
My idea of a perfect day:
I love being outdoors, so my perfect day would be spent hiking or working in my yard. I have my own chainsaw!
What’s on your desk right now?
The most unusual thing on my desk right now is a brick from Sikes Hall. When we renovated our office, I salvaged some bricks from the building, which was built in 1904 by a predominantly African-American convict labor crew. I love knowing my history, both the good and the bad, because I believe knowing our roots helps us understand our present and shape our future.
One thing working in financial aid has taught me:
Working in financial aid has taught me that we can never stop learning.
What sound or noise do you love?
The sound I love most is the sound of my sons coming through the door. I am not a fan of the empty nest!
What sound or noise do you hate?
The sound I hate most is blaring horns. Heavy traffic and aggressive drivers are my nemeses.
The most difficult or challenging thing about my job is:
The most challenging thing about working in financial aid is never being caught up. It took me years to adjust to never, ever, ever being done.
What's the one thing you won't skip —or shorten—in the morning?
Although it means less sleep, I absolutely will not skip an hour in the morning in my big comfy chair with coffee and a cat.
What's one great or helpful thing a coworker has done recently?
My assistant director, Jennifer Williams, is also the current president of the South Carolina Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (SCASFAA). I am grateful to her for all she does for my office and for my state association. She is an amazing colleague and friend who just completed freshman packaging and put the finishing touches on our annual conference—all in the same week.
Want to say hello to Elizabeth or reply to something she 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Publication Date: 3/27/2018