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Profiles in the Financial Aid Profession: Julie Wonderlin from Ivy Tech Community College – Terre Haute

January 31, 2012

Julie Wonderlin, Director of Financial Aid, Ivy Tech Community College Terre Haute

Raina Chezem: How long have you been in financial aid and how did your career in financial aid begin?

Julie Wonderlin: 18 years with Ivy Tech and 12 years in financial aid.  Started with Ivy Tech in 1993 as an Internal Auditor.  Moved to Business Office Supervisor in 1995 and Director of Financial Aid in 1999.

Raina: What are you most proud of in your office? 

Julie: I am very proud of the way our Financial Aid office has grown in size since I started in 1995, both in physical space and in the number of employees.  We have been very fortunate to be able to increase the number employees in the Financial Aid office and move into a bigger area in order to better be able to serve our increasing student population.   Jan Benton in my office has also developed a call center for our office.  We have two part-time staff members that answer the incoming phone calls and return phone messages to students.  The call center allows the other staff members to be able to spend more time working with students face to face and processing their financial aid.  The process during this growth has not been easy; however, most of my staff has stayed with me throughout this growth and all the ups and downs.  As we all know, financial aid is a profession that changes constantly.  I am very proud of the way my staff has persevered through all the changes and struggles and continued to serve students in the best way possible.

Raina: What makes Ivy Tech Community College system unique?

Julie: Ivy Tech is not only the largest college in Indiana – it is the largest community college system of its kind in the nation.  We have experienced phenomenal enrollment growth in recent years and the growth is expected to continue. Ivy Tech Community College offers more than 150 programs and concentrations statewide along with a wide variety of short-term training programs and certificates, and we are continually adding more.

Raina: What do you think is the biggest challenge the financial aid community faces today? 

Julie: The same challenge everyone faces….doing more with less.  Helping more students and keeping up with regulation changes with limited, and sometimes, decreasing resources.

Raina: What do you enjoy most about your job? 

Julie: I enjoy helping students achieve their educational and life goals and seeing the pride and excitement in their faces when they walk across the stage at graduation.

Raina: You’ve been in financial aid for a long time. What words of wisdom would you share with others that are just starting out in this career?

Julie: Take it one day at a time and be patient.  It will start to make sense some day, and then everything will change, guaranteed.

Raina: What do you enjoy doing during your time away from work? 

Julie: Attending and helping out with kids’ youth group and sports activities, scrapbooking, getting manicures and pedicures with my friends, shopping, and Zumba.

Raina: What is something people may not know about you? 

Julie: This summer I was driving some of our youth group back from a 3 day event in St. Louis in the middle of the night.  I hit a bat with the windshield of my van and it ended up getting stuck between the side mirror on the passenger side and the side of the van.  It stayed there with its wing flapping against the van until we pulled off at the next exit so someone could get it out…and that someone was not me!!!

Thank you, Julie, for sharing your thoughts with me!

Raina Chezem, Midwest Regional Director, Nelnet Partner Solutions

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