KASFAA Oz-Sociated Press, Summer 2001
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First Impressions of Summer Institute

by Jackie Clark/Kansas State University

From the time that I started working for K-State in September of 2000, I had heard about RMASFAA’s Summer Institute (June 3-8, 2001). I was looking forward to staying in Colorado Springs for the first time. But what I was really looking forward to was receiving “The Binder”. Finally, to have the data that I needed consolidated in one place, and not just in multiple folders that contained bits and pieces printed from the Internet. Plus I was very curious to see just what Summer Institute was all about.

Check-in at the residence hall was a breeze, made possible by the very friendly and helpful staff. Registering for Summer Institute was also very easy, thanks to the well organized Institute team. I had my complimentary water bottle, my complimentary sturdy backpack, and finally “The Binder”. Hurrah! At last: answers, definitions, case studies, contacts, etc. But then suddenly a thought occurred to me, was I going to have to carry this behemoth back and forth with me each day?

Well, I carried it to the first day of class and we were told that we could leave the books in the classroom during the week. Naturally, I wanted to er, uh, study, but I have a bad back, and so the less I carry the better. Plus I could use the scheduled breaks to look over notes. Yeah, that’s it.

I really felt like I was back in school. I was curious about the instructors, and if they were really going to take us through the entire book. I wondered what the other students would be like, and if I would have the least amount of experience compared to the rest of them. Getting to know the group through the icebreakers was very helpful. It was nice to hear about the lives of others, their areas of expertise, what they were facing at their institutions, and what they were hoping to take away from the week. And as it turned out, I already sort of knew one of our instructors, Penny James (Wichita State University). I did not know the second instructor, David Vikander (Southeast Technical Institute), but eventually all of us ended up learning more about him than we probably needed to. Wow!

As we moved through the book, I realized that I had a little more knowledge of some of the material than I thought. I had already attended a few decentralized trainings, and KASFAA and RMASFAA conferences, so thankfully I was not totally lost (just in a few areas). One of my classmates had been in financial aid for only four days! Luckily, she had this opportunity to start out with Summer Institute right away. Plus the chance to learn from Penny and David who, by the way, were the best instructors ever!! They really made us feel comfortable, and were extremely patient with us. This was Penny’s fourth year teaching and it showed. David was a neophyte Neophyte instructor, and no, you could not tell that this was his first time teaching. Great job! We also had a chance to learn from other instructors because the schedule was arranged to have teachers/presenters rotate to different classes. This really gave us an opportunity to interact with different people, to hear various scenarios and diverse opinions, and it offered a little variety. For example, the Packaging Game was great! This provided the best chance for us to see just how packaging really works, to be creative, and to be a little silly. Joy Jeffers (Alta Colleges, Inc./Westwood College) and Brenda Sebastian (Montana State University Great Falls College of Technology) were the perfect game ‘hosts’!

When I first saw the Neophyte schedule it seemed awfully packed, not just with classes, but also with extracurricular activities, and at first I felt obliged to attend everything. The Summer Institute Committee clearly made every effort to ensure that we would never be bored (or hungry). There was the Mardi Gras Dinner and Mixer, the western chuck wagon dinner show at the Flying W Ranch, a chance to see Plastered in Paris (a comedy improv troupe), a tour of the U.S. Air Force Academy, and an inspiring talk by Dr. Joanne Owens-Nauslar. Plus there were snack breaks twice a day, movies every night in the residence hall lounge, daily early morning group walks and jogs, and a chance to just chat with other attendees in the wee small hours of the morning over coffee. But eventually I realized that I did not have to go everywhere and do everything. I attended some of the events, went exploring on my own, ate in the dining hall occasionally, and sometimes ate downtown. But I made sure to attend the lunch party to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Summer Institute and to hear how it all started. And who better but Wilma Kasnic (Emporia State/RMASFAA President) to say a few words at that time?

By the end of the week, my brain was saturated and everything was going into one ear and right out of the other. I was just glad that I had “The Binder” to refer to later. Now, after reflecting on it all and looking over the information, I realize just how hard the Institute Committee had to work. Their tasks ranged from organizing the materials, to arranging for housing, parking, directions, activities, food and more food, and so on. It is mind-boggling to think of what they have to come up with every year. Well, at least the Institute Committee has very capable people to make it all happen, and soon they will once again have an opportunity to make a wonderful first impression on yet another newcomer to RMASFAA’s Summer Institute.

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