Sharmain Lazard-Talbert

Sharmain Lazard-TalbertSharmain Lazard-Talbert
Financial Aid Advisor-Connect Program
Southern University at Shreveport



As a first-generation college student from a small rural town in Louisiana, the financial aid profession is more of a vocation than a job to Sharmain Lazard-Talbert. Having fallen in love with helping students obtain the financial means to achieve their educational goals, Sharmain saw first-hand the importance of the financial aid profession. After a few years in the non-profit sector managing an after-school program, Sharmain decided she wanted to pursue a career in higher education and began as a financial aid counselor at Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge. After nearly five years there, she transitioned to her current role as a financial aid advisor at Southern University at Shreveport's SUSLA Connect program.

With a focus on further developing herself professionally, Sharmain is looking to sharpen her mentoring and leadership skills in the hopes of then paying it forward to future financial aid professionals. She also hopes to become an FAAC® and pursue a doctorate degree in higher education. Sharmain said her passion for helping students and background helps her "demystify the financial aid process." 

"When I counsel students regarding financial aid processing and eligibility, I think of them as either my nephew or one of my nieces," she said. "How would I like them to be treated and advised? Although we may have challenging days, many of our students are new to this process and are as frustrated, if not more, than we are."

She added that diversity is important in the financial aid profession because the demographics of students pursuing degrees in education are rapidly changing.

"Financial aid and higher education should change in order to adapt and represent these demographics," she said. "I believe this representation sends a resounding message that anyone, from any background, race, gender can excel and advance within their endeavors. I believe that anyone, from any background, should have access to postsecondary education."

Learn more about Sharmain in the brief Q&A below.

How have you seen diversity in higher education change since you began your career? 

I have noticed that as the population has become more diverse, there are more minorities pursuing certifications and degrees in tertiary education, with increases in minority retention and graduation rates. I have also noticed a renewal of student interest in matriculating at and professionals desiring careers at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). I have noticed that there are more young minorities pursuing careers in higher education, and I hope to see more minority women in leadership roles on college campuses. 

What are some of your career and personal life goals?

I think numbers are a beautiful language and I am data-driven, so I desire to learn more about system processing to ensure students are efficiently processed and observe how this impacts retention, graduation, and default cohort rates. I desire to find innovative and effective means of better communicating with the students I serve. Personally, I yearn to resume writing, hopefully publishing my efforts. I would also love to open a scenic and majestic bed and breakfast with my husband. 

What motivates you to work hard?

Although we are human and subject to error, the fact that I can positively impact so many students drives me to operate at my best. I also believe that you should treat people as you desire to be treated, or better, so I try to operate as if my career is my ministry and opportunity to mentor, empower, and cultivate the lives of my students.  

Any hidden talents?

I enjoy singing and can be caught having mini-concerts between my virtual advising sessions. I also love writing poetry, short stories, and inspirational exhortations.  

What do you do when you're not working?

I enjoy spending time with husband and family, partaking in scenic drives and road trips, reading a good book (my mother and I put together book lists that we read and discuss every year), watching movies, volunteering with my sorority sisters, spending time with and advising my remarkable Zeta Youth affiliates, and cooking/baking for our wonderful nieces, nephews, and goddaughters.

Meet the 2020-21 DLP Class

Publication Date: 2/3/2021

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