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 Susan Swisher. Susan has worked in financial aid for more than 35 years. She got her start in the field during the last semester of her senior year at the University of Iowa, when she took a job working for American College Testing (ACT), a company that formerly provided federal processing of need analysis data. Susan then returned home to Chicago and began working to administer financial aid to students for DeVry Education Group, which had just opened a new campus nearby. The rest, Susan said, is history. For the past 25 years and counting, Susan has worked at Saint Xavier University, where she has enjoyed working with "a close-knit group of colleagues who are student-driven." Over the years, Susan said, she is grateful to have received "support from of all offices of the university in recognizing the importance of regulatory guidance."
Susan has served on the NASFAA Board of Directors as the Midwest Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (MASFAA) regional representative, NASFAA's Nominations and Elections Committee, and NASFAA's Thought Force on Aligning State, Regional & National Efforts. Susan was also awarded the Regional Leadership Award at NASFAA's 2019 National Conference.
How have you experienced innovation in your career in financial aid?
When I started in financial aid, administering financial aid was primarily a manual process. As technology advanced, our offices became more automated and efficient in administering financial aid. These efficiencies led to higher customer satisfaction levels of the students and families we serve.
What is a goal you've set for yourself for the upcoming year?
I have been working on becoming more fit physically since I am pain-free and able to walk longer distances that I couldn't in the past. I plan to continue that process during the upcoming year.
What is one superpower you would like to have?
I would like to be able to talk to my cats. I have two. They are litter mates and inseparable. I am always wondering what they are saying to each other, to me, and, in particular, what they have been doing when I am sleeping or away from home.
What is your favorite quote?
"Let us take one day only in hands at a time. Resolve to do good today and better tomorrow," by Catherine McAuley, the founder of the Sisters of Mercy.
If you could learn any skill, what would it be?
I would like to be a better public speaker. Early on in my career, I was a nervous wreck every time I got in front of a group. While those nerves have gone away, if I could speak impromptu rather than having a script to guide me, I would be thankful.
What is something you always wanted to do?
I enjoy traveling, and was fortunate to do some traveling in Europe and had the opportunity to visit England, Ireland, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Switzerland. Unfortunately, I have not been back in over 15 years and would like to return and visit other parts of Europe.
Want to say hello to Susan 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: 12/17/2019