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Profiles in Financial Aid: Carolyn Halgerson from Kilian Community College

September 12, 2012

Carolyn Halgerson, Director of Financial Aid, Kilian Community College

There are many financial aid professionals who have been in the industry for quite some time. And Carolyn Halgerson, Director of Financial Aid at Kilian Community College in South Dakota is one of them. What makes her situation unique is that she joined the financial aid profession the Monday after she graduated from high school (work study position at the University of South Dakota). Carolyn has been involved in state, regional and national financial aid organizations – was President of SDASFAA, on the Board of Directors of both SDASFAA and RMASFAA, and has served on and chaired numerous committees. Her volunteer efforts extend to her community and church. Carolyn was recently interviewed by Don Buehrer, Nelnet Regional Director for SWASFAA and RMASFAA.

Don: I understand you just became a grandma for the second time. Please tell us more.

Carolyn: Thanks for asking. Ashton Christopher Halgerson arrived on August 1, so now I have two grandchildren to spoil. Big sister Lia seems to be enjoying her new “playmate.”

Don: How did you select financial aid as your profession?

Carolyn:  I didn’t select it.  The Assistant Director of the University of South Dakota called my mother (I was in school) when I was a senior in high school and asked if I’d like a summer job.  I guess you can say I got hooked.

Don: What major changes have you seen in financial aid during your years in the industry?

Carolyn: More and more regulations to follow.

Don: What is your favorite movie, book, TV show? 

Carolyn: I read a lot – I love to read series books, so I’ve read the Harry Potter books, the Stephanie Plum series (Janet Evanovich), the Kay Scarpetta series (Patricia Cornwall), the Kay Dallas series (JD Robb), and most anything by Nora Roberts.

Don: If you could change one financial aid regulation, what would it be and why? 

Carolyn: Gainful employment.  I’m not sure the current rules are going to get at the identified issue. (Recent court rulings may get Carolyn her wish!)

Don: Who are/were your mentors?

Carolyn: Okay, here we’re dating me – most of your readers won’t even know who these people are!  Mary Lou Hildebrandt(Northern State College, SD), Bill Jones (South Dakota School of Mines and Technology), Jim Bishop (Northern State College), Wayne DeSart (Black Hills State College, SD), Leonard Eichacker, (Stewart School-SD), Doug Steckler (University of South Dakota).

Don: What is the most enjoyable part of your job?  

Carolyn: Getting to know students and their ‘stories’.  If I have time, and just let myself listen to them – they have some fascinating backgrounds.

Don: Name one thing about you that most people do not know

Carolyn: Probably that I was the Majorette in my high school band for 5 years.  No, it didn’t take me 5 years to finish high school…..I started in eighth grade.

Don: What has been your biggest challenge work-wise over the past 12 months? 

Carolyn: Juggling priorities.

Don: How do you spend your time when you’re not working? 

Carolyn: Spoiling my grandchildren, reading and riding our trike (a motorcycle with three wheels). I also love water aerobics.

Don: If you could invite any three people to dinner, who would they be?

Carolyn:  I’ve played this game before – only it had something to do with a hot tub – Ellen DeGeneres, Will Smith, and Harrison Ford.   I think they’re some of the best entertainers in the industry today.

Don: What was your most enjoyable vacation (and what did you do?)

Carolyn:  A cruise my husband and I took with six other members of his family.

Don: Do you have any upcoming vacation plans?

Carolyn: Several family members will be spending a week together in Florida in February. It can’t come fast enough.

Don Buehrer, Regional Director, Nelnet Partner Solutions

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