University of Idaho
The start to Daniel’s career in financial aid was a journey — a literal one — when he received an invitation for an in-person interview with the University of Idaho while living with his parents in California.
“I was very excited because it was my first post-undergraduate interview and very quickly felt the excitedness turn into anxiousness as I learned I would be flown up for a whirlwind day of interviews and return home within 24 hours,” Daniel said.
The experience of not being able to ask for advice from family and friends about how to go about the interview process led Daniel to seek out ways in which he could provide support and mentorship for others in the profession with experiences that are unique to them.
Daniel said he loves helping people — and in the world of financial aid, there is never a lack of need.
At Cal Poly Pomona Daniel had his first opportunity to work in the field, where he was offered a work-study position and applied for a customer service job answering phone calls and fielding front counter visits within the financial aid office. “After working there for about a year, I knew I wanted to focus my job hunt after college within financial aid,” Daniel said.
Daniel has been heavily involved in volunteer work in his past seven years of working in financial aid with Western Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (WASFAA). Fun fact: Daniel was also the first University of Idaho staff member to earn a NASFAA credential.
Learn more about Daniel in the brief Q&A below.
Who is your favorite historical figure, and why?
Well, given the recent passing I have to say Betty White. She was an amazing person and a great actress. I first came across her in a film with Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds called “The Proposal,” and then loved her on the SNL appearance back around 2010. During early COVID, my wife was really into “Golden Girls,” so we watched all of them and she was fantastic. I found that I loved her more and more the more I read about her. She was an early pioneer in the entertainment industry in a male-dominated business, as an actress and producer. When she was the host of her own show she featured entertainers by virtue of their talent and not their skin color. When she received complaints about this practice, she doubled down and gave them more stage time.
How have you seen diversity in higher education change since you began your career?
This program alone is a great example of how more attention is paid to the subject. Several institutions require diversity statements as part of the hiring process and have taken steps to expand diversity and inclusion initiatives, offices, etc. Even just 10 years ago, a lot of this headway was nonexistent.
What are some of your life goals?
A short-term goal would be to get through the current challenges amplified by the pandemic. Don’t get me wrong, COVID-19 has brought about some good changes, such as expanded work from home opportunities for many who never could have imagined it being an option, myself included. However, there are also increased workloads, limited resources, and staff turnover.
A long-term goal would be to work toward advocating for students in a more impactful way. I’d like to see the Pell Grant doubled. I’d like to see substantial improvements made toward the efficiency of loan forgiveness. I’d like to see a centralized verification process where a student could complete their FAFSA and verification documents just once on FAFSA.gov without any school’s involvement, though that is more of a dream than a goal.
How does your perspective impact how you do your job and approach financial aid?
When I finally got serious about going to school, I attended a community college (shout out to Chaffey College!) and when I was ready to transfer, I applied to a mix of about a dozen public and private schools. The recession was in full swing and had a great impact on my life, which ultimately filtered out the private schools from my list of options. The closest public school on my list was Cal Poly Pomona and I really fell in love with the place when I started classes. My first visit to the administrative offices included a trip to the financial aid office, and I remember being assisted by a work-study student who fielded question after question of what seemed to me to be very complicated processes. When it was my turn, he looked up my file and kindly confirmed that yes, my entrance counseling and MPN have not yet been transmitted and that my funding issue would be resolved with some time. When walking away, I realized he answered the same question for several of us who were waiting. All with the same degree of care, kindness, and understanding.
I am convinced that this first interaction with financial aid plays a large role in why I love meeting with new students and their loved ones. I sincerely enjoy educating them on how financial aid works. It is difficult to approach our profession without the jargon, and meeting with financial aid newbies provides a fun challenge to invent new ways of explaining multi-system processes.
Any hidden talents?
I used to be a skater kid and can probably still be pretty dangerous on a board.
What do you do when you're not working?
I love to spend time with my family and friends. When we get together, we have a schedule of activities or things we plan to do while we are together. It could be a movie marathon or playing specific games. Creating those memories and watching my toddler learn is my absolute favorite. Individually, I go through phases where I get deeply involved in a hobby, so I have a lot of hobbies. I started playing ice hockey this year for the first time in my life and it has been incredibly fun, I cannot get enough of it! I went on Google to check out some of the outdoor rinks in D.C. for the Leadership & Legislative Conference & Expo, and am excited to skate them in person.
Publication Date: 1/3/2022