Karen Williams graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in 2004 & 2009 and currently works as the Director of Financial Aid Operations for the Daytona Beach campus.
Discuss you career path and current role at ERAU.
I was fortunate to join Embry-Riddle in October of ’94, as a financial aid counselor. I came to the University with 5 years of financial aid experience and was excited for this new opportunity.
I am currently the Director of Financial Aid Operations. I have held many different roles within the financial aid department in my 24 years with the University, each allowing me to gain more responsibilities and experiences. In my current role, I work with compliance, reconciliation and the student information system. I also get to assist students and families on financial aid.
I have to say assisting the students and families with the financial aid process and seeing their successes is truly the best part of my job!!
How has your degree helped you in your current position?
My role allows me to work with management to create ways to streamline processes to enhance our service to students. Financial aid deals with a lot of rules and regulations and our goal is to find the best way to assist students and families through this tedious process.
Having earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree at ERAU, I learned about leadership and organizational effectiveness. We have some of the very best instructors and they bring their experiences into the classroom which can be translated to all aspects of business.
I truly value my degrees and the time spent in the classroom and know they have contributed to my success and person I am today.
What have been some of your favorite projects to work on throughout your career?
I’ve been involved in so many great projects in my career at ERAU, but I would have to say my favorite was being part of the implementation of Campus Solutions, the new student information system that went live in November 2011. This was an 18-month project that allowed us to build the system to meet the needs of our students. I was selected as the subject matter expert for the Financial Aid Department and this was truly an honor and a privilege. It was great being part of a team that accomplished such an important endeavor.
What is your best piece of advice for students who are in need of financial aid?
Apply for scholarships!! The search for scholarships requires a lot of perseverance and dedication and is an ongoing process. This is the best way to reduce student loan borrowing and meet educational costs. Students shouldn’t get discouraged, just keep applying. There are a lot of scholarships out there and I have seen the benefit to students.