Profiles in Financial Aid: Celeste Sheehy from Baylor University (TX)
Does this sound familiar? “I’ve been in financial aid for 26 years full-time and another 4 years part-time…and I never intended to stay in financial aid. But I definitely feel I have used my education every day in financial aid.” Celeste Sheehy, Associate Director of Processing and Audit Services at Baylor University (TX), is another one of the many individuals drawn into the financial aid profession and made it her career. Celeste and her husband Matt have four boys but continue to find time to volunteer for university and community programs. Celeste was recently interviewed by Don Buehrer, Nelnet’s Regional Director for SWASFAA and RMASFAA.
Don: How did you select financial aid as your profession?
Celeste: I didn’t; it selected me! I started as a student worker my first week of college. I left the industry after I married my college sweetheart, Matt, and worked as an admission counselor for UTSA while Matt was in graduate school. We came back to Waco after he graduated because we wanted to raise our family in a small, close-knit community. Baylor was the first place I applied for a job, and there just happened to be an opening in financial aid!
Don: What major changes have you seen in financial aid during your years in the industry?
Celeste: Oh my goodness, what hasn’t changed? I started when we used the CSS FAF, not the FAFSA, and students completed it on paper and mailed it in. We received the results on paper along with institutional applications for scholarship, and we typed award letters by hand. Loan certifications were multi-page carbon forms that we typed and hand signed. Pell was known as Basic Educational Opportunity Grant. We didn’t have computers at our desks and had to pull students’ files to answer any questions about their status.
Don: What is your favorite movie, book, TV show?
Celeste: My favorite movie is When Harry Met Sally. I love happy endings. My favorite book is generally whatever I’ve just read, most recently The Help. I usually have time to read only on airplanes and on vacation. I stack up the books I want to read all year. My favorite TV show is The Office.
Don: If you could change one financial aid regulation, what would it be and why?
Celeste: Just one? That’s tough! I would probably keep the current interest rate on Subsidized Direct Loans rather than having it double July 1st.
Don: Who are/were your mentors?
Celeste: As a student worker, Bill Dube (former FAD at Baylor) was my first supervisor; I worked for him for another 12 years after I graduated.
Don: What is the most enjoyable part of your job?
Celeste: Seeing students accomplish their goals. It’s wonderful to hear from a student that I met at freshman orientation who is now graduating.
Don: Name one thing about you that most people do not know.
Celeste: I’ve worked in the industry so long; I don’t think I have any secrets left!
Don: What has been your biggest challenge work-wise over the past 12 months?
Celeste: We had a DOE program review last fall. Since no one in our office had ever been through a program review, it was an unknown and nerve-racking anticipating the team’s questions. But we came through it with flying colors, and it was affirming to see our hard work acknowledged.
Don: How do you spend your time when you’re not working?
Celeste: I have four sons and have always attended all of their school games and activities. I enjoy shopping for antiques, scrapbooking and crafts. This summer I’m making the centerpieces and floral arrangements for my sister’s upcoming wedding.
Don: If you could invite any three people to dinner, who would they be?
Celeste: Honestly? My three closest friends who I have known since we were in college. We don’t get to see each other very often anymore, and I would love to catch up with them! One of them even lives in Waco!
Don: What was your most enjoyable vacation (and what did you do?)
Celeste: We have gone to the same guest ranch in the Texas Hill Country every year for the past 12 years. My most enjoyable time was probably the last year that all my children were able to be there for the entire week. We swim, hike, float on the Guadalupe River, eat out, stargaze, and enjoy the quiet. No TV and no computers allowed! We usually climb Enchanted Rock once each vacation to watch the sun rise.
Don: Do you have any upcoming vacation plans?
Celeste: Yes, we will spend a few days in the Hill Country and then fly to Florida for a long weekend to see our sons Josh and Justin who have internships there this summer.