SJVC Business Administration grad brings special skills to Delano campus
Saidah Gavin has covered many desks at SJVC over nearly eight years. She started part time at the Bakersfield campus as a Tuition Planner, then moved to First Contact, Dean’s Assistant and whatever position needed a temporary fill-in. During this time, she also completed SJVC’s Business Administration program online.
“I’ve done everything,” she laughs. “From the very beginning, I loved what the school represented, and I liked being a part of that.”
Saidah has made herself so valuable and trustworthy at SJVC Bakersfield that the newest campus in Delano had to have her as part of their start-up team – this time in her newest role as Financial Aid Officer.
“I like that it is a new opportunity in a brand new facility,” she says. “The idea of being able to help students in a different capacity than I have done in a long time is exciting.”
“As a former student who provided excellent service as the Dean of Student Services Administrative Assistant, Saidah has a detailed knowledge of student success and a deep skill set about SJVC,” says Kelly Macy, Saidah’s former Campus Director in Bakersfield. “She’s walked a mile in the shoes of our students and brings that knowledge, experience and understanding in all of her actions.”
As a Financial Aid Officer, Saidah will work through the financial aspects of college programs with prospective students. On the very front-end of the enrollment process, she will explain program costs, along with financial aid and loan options. Sept. 14 is the first start date for the Delano campus, and Saidah will help enroll all students who begin their career education and training that day.
“Financial aid in general is kind of a scary thing, and students are often concerned if they can pay for school,” says Saidah. “There is a misconception that they are going to have to pay for all of it out of pocket, or that they won’t qualify for grants and loans. But they are pleasantly surprised that they will have very affordable payments.”
As a newly minted Financial Aid Officer, Saidah had a surprise of her own. “I thought enrollment might be a slower process, but once they get their initial estimate and see what they might qualify for, they are ready to commit. They feel such relief and are ready to complete their financial paperwork and enroll.”
Saidah knows that this is a big moment for her prospective students, and she wants them to feel completely satisfied with their financial responsibilities and the program they have selected to meet their career goals.
“I love interacting with people, so working directly with prospective students is ideal for me,” she says.
Saidah feels the support and shared ideals from co-workers – especially the school’s Admission Advisor, Melina Lopez. “It’s a partnership, and we work closely together,” says Saidah. “Melina and I both want our students to succeed.”
Saidah mirrors the strong work ethic she has always admired in her mother, Roberta. “My mother retired after working in county management for 25 years, but she didn’t stay retired. She says she still wants to give back, so she went to work for another county. My mother is awesome.”
Saidah has a busy home life with husband, Scottie, and daughters, Shani (12), Saniyah (4) and Sianna (3). A big reason for her own push toward greater success is to impress upon her own girls the importance of doing what it takes to excel. She was willing to go back to school, while holding down a job and raising a family to make that point day-after-day.
Student life, for Saidah, is not that far from memory. “Everything seems a little crazy when you’re in that moment,” she says. “But when you slow down and take it piece-by-piece, it’s much more manageable.”
“Although my children know that going to school was a struggle,” says Saidah, “I want them to know that the sacrifices I make are to benefit us as a family.”
Having worn the shoes of most of those sitting in front of her now considering their own sacrifices to attend college, Saidah has some advice:
“Everyone is here to help you. You have many resources, and your instructors are your first line of help. Many members of the Delano team come from successful campuses, and we bring valuable experiences from those campuses to provide strong support for you. Get comfortable in asking for help.”
Students would do well to take that advice and learn to lean on the strength of their strongest supporters. Saidah is most definitely among them.
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