“For me, when I was a student, there’s no way I would have been able to go to school without financial aid,” Dawn Hines says.
Now 34 and an SFCC Financial Aid advisor, Hines helps students navigate the same federal and local aid that once made her own education possible.
“A lot of our students depend on financial aid to go to school, and they wouldn’t be here if they didn’t have it. It’s vital,” she says.
Though it had been over a decade since she graduated from Green Ridge High School and began working as a certified medication technician for a nursing home, Hines says she enjoyed transitioning back into a regular class schedule. The tricky part was balancing her studies with a full-time job and, more importantly, her family.
“Obviously my kids and my family came first,” she says, articulating a hard truth for parents going back to school.
With the support of her teachers, Hines learned how to manage her packed schedule well enough to add a work-study internship with SFCC’s Financial Aid and Veteran Services that would count toward her degree in Office Management. Two weeks before graduation, she interviewed for an open communications specialist position, going from a work-study student to the supervisor for the work-study program.
Since her promotion to financial aid advisor in 2016, Hines has spent much of her time ensuring aid stays within highly interpretive federal regulations. Financial Aid and Veteran Services is an important liaison to government support programs, but Hines emphasizes how aid also depends on the students.
“There’s a ton of funding out there,” she says, encouraging students to contact their financial aid office to look for new opportunities. “You just have to take the initiative to go out and ask.”
From high school students considering dual credit courses to working parents who haven’t touched a textbook in years, Hines encourages everyone to utilize financial aid and scholarship opportunities to make their education possible. Her own decision to do so has made all the difference.
“Even though I was already in my 30s when I decided to go back to school, I had no idea how much I would grow and develop,” she says. “I still am.”
Story by Jackson Ingram
Summer 2017 Communications Intern
Marketing and Communications