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 protected]
Assistant Vice Provost, Student Financial Services
at the University of San Francisco
Meet Angelika Williams. Angelica first began her financial aid career by consulting at Global Financial Services, where she got a thorough understanding of financial aid processing and federal regulations.
"I started out in review and compliance where you are heavily involved in going through extensive training. You train for maybe one to two years just on the federal regulations as you're reviewing a file, and I worked myself way up to a solution architect, which is the back office auditing process giving schools the general idea for optimizing their financial aid processes," Angelika said.
It was through a variety of mentorships that Angelika ultimately made the transition to becoming a financial aid administrator. As a first-generation college student, Angelika said she wanted to learn all of the unknowns about the system to best inform students pursuing their higher education goals.
"It was my drive to understand stuff and see for low-income and first-generation students like myself who don't have this information, how important it is to know it, and then make sure you practice it in that manner and get more involved."
On the institutional level, Angelika has had an extensive career in financial aid. She worked as assistant director of financial aid at Texas State University from 2012 to 2017, and as director of scholarships and financial aid at Texas A&M University from 2017 to 2018. Angelica then served as director of financial aid at Howard University before assuming the role of assistant vice provost of student financial services at the University of San Francisco.
Angelika has been active in her work with NASFAA, and has served as a member on a variety of professional associations, including the Texas Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (TASFAA) and the Financial Aid Audit and Compliance Professionals (FAACP). Additionally, she has participated in NASFAA's advocacy pipeline and served as a member of the national conference task force. She has also volunteered and served two years on the Rapid Response Network (RRN), a group that provides NASFAA’s policy staff with timely, relevant feedback and examples to inquiries related to proposed legislation, regulation and/or related initiatives and assists staff in aggregating and analyzing feedback, including identification of common themes and /or trends among responses.
What do you find most rewarding about your work?
The ability to help individuals from different backgrounds. Once you see students get to that finish line in order to obtain their degree and achieve their goals, that's the most rewarding piece for me, especially when I see a first-generation student get to make that accomplishment. I cry at almost every graduation.
What's helped you the most in getting through the past year? What’s been the biggest challenge during the pandemic?
As we hear stories about individuals who are financially impacted by the pandemic, there's a need to do more, but with the resources we have and the conditions that impacted every entity, not just higher ed, it’s sort of hard to accommodate and help in a manner that you want to when it comes to affordability.
The biggest challenge is trying to expand our knowledge beyond financial aid to be a financial resource, whether it's personal or professional to these students.
If you could change one thing about the financial aid system what would it be?
It would be making sure graduate students are able to receive grant funding. You may still be in financial need after receiving your undergraduate degree. I think it is more difficult to encourage someone to take that next step without giving them another benefit.
What's one thing you couldn't function without?
I would have to say my integrity. Integrity is the only leadership characteristic that one can take away from oneself. If you uphold a high level of integrity, qualities such as self-confidence and resilience will effortlessly develop. Also, integrity ensures that we maintain an ethical foundation for implementing best practices in financial aid.
One thing you have on your desk at all times?
There's a picture of my grandmother on my desk, my mom's mom. She didn't have the opportunity to finish her education for a myriad of reasons. I know she's proud of me and the things that I've accomplished and the things I've done. So just making sure that I live in her truth she will always be my inspiration.
If you could automatically learn a new skill what would it be?
My skill would be to effectively interpret all laws and regulations that support the university as a whole, not just within the financial aid arena.
Is there anything you are most looking forward to this summer/early fall?
I am really looking forward to returning to campus. We're in San Francisco — we’ve had to shelter in place since March of 2020, and we have not been on campus since then — so I am looking forward to it because the visibility and the connectivity that you have with the students is easier when you are on my campus versus working remotely, and so I am very much looking forward to getting more interactions with the students.
Do you have a favorite sport you’ve either played, currently play or just like to watch?
I never played sports but I like to watch sports. I like basketball, my favorite team was Oklahoma City Thunder, but that was obviously when Westbrook and Durant were there, so I don't have a favorite team anymore but I do love basketball.
What's your favorite type of dessert?
It's a chocolate cake called Mississippi mud cake. It’s made with devil's food cake, and is topped with whipped cream and caramel and condensed milk. You're gonna gain some weight from it but it's delicious.
If you could have a super power, what would it be and why?
I would make myself completely and totally invincible. I want to be the strongest of the strong whether it's personal or professional.
Want to say hello to Angelika 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 [email protected].
Publication Date: 7/12/2021