Distinguished PAT (Professional, Administrative, and Technical Staff) Award
Senior Associate Director of Financial Aid
“My dad always said, ‘Never carry a balance on your credit card and never pay interest,’” Crystal Finefrock recalls.
Today, she’s the one offering financial advice.
Finefrock’s PSU career began in 2000, when she accepted the position of assistant director of financial aid, awarding financial aid packages to students and counseling them and their families on financial aid options. Barely into her second year at PSU, Finefrock says, “My career took an interesting twist.”
That twist involved financial aid’s new software system, a system Finefrock had been trained on as a backup to the department’s information technologist. When the information technologist retired prior to the system conversion, Finefrock was asked to step into the role, and she accepted. Though the conversion process proved to be a challenge at times, Finefrock says the experience helped solidify financial aid’s teamwork philosophy. “We learned we can’t figure things out alone—we need to work together and help each other,” she says.
Now senior associate director of financial aid, Finefrock retains all of her responsibilities as information technologist and balances them with overseeing office operations, managing the operating budget, supervising staff, and more. The knowledge she gained from her previous positions, Finefrock notes, allows her to easily shift from assisting a colleague with a software system question to counseling a student on financial responsibility. “I love to mix it up,” she says.
Over the years, Finefrock has lent her expertise to other departments at PSU. She collaborated with Hartman Union Building staff to create a paperless orientation registration process. And in partnership with the PASS (Plymouth Academic Support Services) office, she has spoken to classes on topics including personal finance and loans. For her work on behalf of first-generation students, she earned the Champion of Educational Opportunity Award from the New Hampshire Educational Opportunity Association.
Building on her passion for financial education, Finefrock helped create and implement PSU’s nationally recognized $MART ($tudents’ Monetary Awareness and Responsibility Today) program. The program, for which she serves as director, provides students with ongoing individualized financial counseling and personalized portfolios that contain their financial aid information and financial literacy tools.
Realizing the increasing need for personal financial education, PSU introduced its Personal Finance and Investment course—a general education offering—in fall 2008. When Finefrock was approached to teach the course, she didn’t hesitate to accept. “Teaching is the hardest thing I do, but I love the challenge in it, and the opportunity to be creative,” she says.
Considering all that she does for PSU and its students, not to mention her public speaking engagements for national, regional, and state financial aid organizations and studying for her second master’s degree, it’s all too easy to label Finefrock a workaholic. But she just shrugs, smiles, and says, “I just love what I do.”