Federal Student Aid, U.S. Department of Education, Washington, D.C.
This summer, I had the pleasure of working for U.S. Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid (FSA)—specifically as part of the Content Management Division to ensure a high level of quality across all content and customer communication channels. Additionally, the division focuses on plain language reviews of web content while developing content catered to specific demographics. As part of the team, my job primarily covered a few key areas. First, along with two other team members, I helped begin the StudentAid.gov “sitewide consistency project” by reviewing over 200 pages—in both English and Spanish—to ensure FSA style requirements. Furthermore, I was responsible for testing any content-related modifications to the site, including new financial aid estimator tools. As the fall semester begins, FSA is making sure the site runs as smoothly as possible. Finally, my independent project directly aimed to change content to improve the experience of adult learners dramatically.
Prior to Williams, I earned an associate degree at a community college in Chicago. Before enrolling, I had taken quite a substantial break since leaving high school—about six years. I was incredibly apprehensive, as I had only attended high school for a year, recently obtained a GED, and was thus reasonably new to the whole school experience. As an adult learner, I encountered substantial challenges in navigating the college experience. Much of it boiled down to privileges traditional students often experience—help on forms, with financial aid, with the emotional struggles of navigating the college process. And frankly, both FSA and third-party content related to financial assistance cater directly to dependent, traditional students. Fortunately, joining Federal Student Aid allows me to help implement changes I wish I saw during my time at community college. As I continue my internship into the fall, I intend to help dramatically overhaul outdated or unclear FSA materials for adult students.
Overall, working for the U.S. Department of Education is a massive step in beginning my career in education. My goals are extensive, but ultimately, I’m most interested in developing curricula that place students’ autonomy and academic interests first. In addition, I imagine a substantial part of my career will be helping adult learners in some capacity. When I dropped out of high school, I never imagined that I would wind up at an institution as prestigious as Williams; ideally, I’d like to make this path easier for others. And central to my own struggle is helping improve communication—extending existing resources to those who need them but might be too afraid to ask.
I would like to extend my thanks to the ’68 Center for Career Exploration. Naturally, as an adult learner, I have life expenses; I put work on hold to go back to school. The ASIP Program has allowed me to further my career and take risks without jeopardizing my security, and for that, I’m incredibly thankful.