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Profiles in the Financial Aid Profession: Ina Sotomayor from University of California Los Angeles

October 26, 2011

Ina Sotomayor, Associate Director of Financial Aid, UCLA

Jon Potter: What are you most proud of with your financial aid office?

Ina Sotomayor: I am most proud of the team spirit that our staff somehow continues to maintain in the face of budget cuts, more processing and customer service demands, and increased administrative burdens facing our office. No matter what challenges are presented, our staff rises to the challenge by getting things done. I do not think we would be half as automated or efficient if it was not for the innovative thinking of our management team or the buy-in and support from all of our staff.

Jon: Are there any primary or coming trends that you see in the financial aid office?

Ina: I see a lot of regulatory changes in the making that will benefit students. Those will present challenges to the FAOs in implementation, awarding, and monitoring them. Increasing pressure will be placed on us to manage our scarce resources to run financial aid programs effectively.

Jon: Who within the financial aid community has been your mentor?

Ina: Ronald Johnson, the Director of our office and my supervisor, has been an excellent mentor by providing me with challenges, offering advice, and expanding my horizons to look beyond what’s immediately in front of me and into the future.

Jon: Where do you think schools should focus their efforts with regard to default prevention strategies given the industry’s move to a 3-yr. CDR model?

Ina: At UCLA, our Student Loan Services and Collections Office is working on strategies to address this issue; so I am probably not the best person to ask.

Jon: When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Ina: I wanted to be a veterinarian until we went on a school trip to UC Davis and I saw a cow with a rubber stopper in its side. That was the ‘teaching aid’ for the workings of a ruminating stomach.

Jon: What do you like most about your job?

Ina: In a way, I like the change that is always a part of financial aid. Setting up processes and implementing upgrades and improvements that result in more efficient delivery of aid to our students keeps me challenged and interested in my job. I also like the customer service aspect of the job and the feeling of being able to help families through difficult economic times.

Jon: What is your favorite book, movie, or food?

Ina: I like mysteries, and a couple of my favorite writers are Michael Connelly and Elizabeth George.

Jon: Name one thing that many people do not know about you.

Ina: I’m a Trekkie.

Jon: What is your favorite television show?

Ina: Doctor Who

Jon Potter, Western Regional Director (CA)

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