Naglaa Gaafar Rego
Coordinator of SAP Initiatives
Community College of Rhode Island
Naglaa Gaagar Rego has close to 18 years of experience working for the Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI), holding multiple positions over the years, including as a coordinator of retention studies, where she first began helping students with the financial aid process.
While working as a coordinator of retention studies, Naglaa led Summer Bridge programs that helped transition incoming students and returning adult learners to college. While she wasn’t an official financial aid counselor, she got firsthand experience helping students with any FAFSA completion issues. Naglaa also served as the director of postsecondary success at the College Crusade of Rhode Island, where she managed transition into college programs, among other duties.
Now, Naglaa is the coordinator of Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Initiatives, a new role she started in June 2022. While she says the transition to her new role has been challenging, it’s also been rewarding.
Naglaa said that while her job title has changed several times, her goal has never changed. She wants to be a “catalyst for systemic changes that promote diversity, inclusion, and access, as well as help first-generation and underrepresented students overcome the barriers to their success and increase their sense of belonging.”
“I see my position as a financial aid professional as a tool to change the experience for underrepresented students and students of color from feeling defeated by their socioeconomic barriers to being supported and well informed about their academic progress and a map to their success,” Naglaa said. “I aspire to be a leader in the field who internally and externally advocates for equitable solutions that are more inclusive and accommodating to their ever-changing needs and challenges for postsecondary degree attainment.”
Learn more about Naglaa in the brief Q&A below.
How did you get your start in financial aid?
Officially, I started directly dealing with financial aid issues as the director of postsecondary success for The College Crusade of Rhode Island through running FSA ID workshops and FAFSA completion events for students and parents across the state. Now in my role, I'm 100% financial aid. This is really when I started digging deep into financial aid, in terms of knowledge, how it affects students, and what's happening behind the scenes.
What’s a challenge within financial aid that you personally have overcome that you're proud of?
The challenge that presented itself was being able to transition to my current role, learning on the job, and assisting over 1,000 students just in the past six months to regain financial aid eligibility since I started here. That was a lot of work and a lot of learning, but really rewarding.
Is there anything in particular that motivates you to work hard?
Knowing why I do what I do. I have grown very clear on the social and economic impact of my work on our students, who are trying to cross extremely challenging barriers and create a better life for themselves and their children. I'm an immigrant myself, a woman of color, and a first-generation college student. Education changed my life. Being a part of a team that tries to create opportunities for students like myself, and my parents, for me keeps me focused, grounded, and driven to be an active change agent in our society and to create social and economic upward mobility for diverse groups who want to become the change.
What are some of your life goals?
A long-term goal is really working toward getting my doctoral degree, perhaps in the next five years. I promised that to my parents. It would be my way to honor them and the sacrifices they made to get me to be who I am today. The other goal is to travel the world with my husband. We both love to travel, but really had a very limited chance to do so in the past.
What do you do when you're not working?
I enjoy my time with my husband, my daughter, and our cat. Family time is really important to me. I also read a lot, and I enjoy yoga and walks in nature.
Who is your favorite historical figure, and why?
Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi, mainly because of their courage, their faith in their mission in life, and their ability to inspire people to connect together in order to create a better future for generations.
Publication Date: 12/12/2022
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