Almost 21 years ago, I left the retail business to join George Fox University as the Federal Perkins Loan coordinator. The main reason for making the change was I wanted to be closer to home and have steady hours so that I could be more involved with raising our daughters, Twila and Heidi. The university has been a very supportive community and an enormous blessing for my family. Although my duties have stayed relatively the same, there have been many changes at the university over the years. Currently, my job title is “student accounts specialist.” The Perkins Loan repayment program continues to be a major part of my job; however, I spend a significant amount of time working with departed students who owe money to the university. Consequently, I am a bill collector!
It has been my experience that George Fox University attracts intelligent, talented, committed, driven, and all-around good students. Some are Christians and some are not. Some are easy to deal with and others are not. Some do not want to be found and others appreciate it.
On a daily basis, I may be a detective trying to find someone, a budget manager trying to figure out how to squeeze out a $50 monthly payment, or a happy cashier processing incoming payments. My greatest joy is helping students whose debts have become severely past due. Many times these students are overwhelmed and just don’t know where to begin to be able to get their finances in order. It is my goal to help them get to a place where they can manage their finances and make sound financial decisions going forward.
As I think about my students, one of the success stories I remember happily includes a GFU graduate who was behind on his $2,000 Federal Perkins Loan. When I was researching his financial status, I found he was behind on all his federal student loans. Instead of a $2,000 problem, he actually had a $15,000 problem. The graduate had moved three times and had not notified the lenders when he moved. He wasn’t trying to shirk his responsibilities, but he didn’t know who to contact or where to start. I was able to get him in contact with his lenders, give him the tools to negotiate reasonable repayment schedules, and tell him how to repair damage done to his credit report. This graduate has returned to the Newberg community and has raised his family here. He is a reputable businessman and has been a credible witness for our Lord. I rejoice in his success and am thankful for having had the opportunity to help him!
Because I work with former students who have delinquent accounts, I joke that it is not a good thing if I know your name. My duties have led me to call members of the NFC community, my husband’s former soccer players, and friends of my daughters. Sometimes these phone calls are a little weird. However, knowing these students did not intentionally miss their payments motivates me to try to help them find a solution to resolving their debt. It is not the university’s or my intention to add guilt or additional burdens. It is my responsibility, however, to hold students accountable for the financial commitments they have made to the university. Unfortunately, not all students cooperate, and it forces me to send accounts to outside collection agencies. This is my least favorite part of the job.
Many people have a life verse. Mine is Proverbs 3:27-28: Whenever you are able, do good to people who need help. If you have what your neighbor asks for, don’t say to him, “Come back later. I will give it to you tomorrow.” (International Children’s Bible given to Twila in 1997 by children’s pastor, Gregg Koskela.) I think these verses complement the book of James that we are currently studying, and they also help me when I have a student on the phone who needs help and doesn’t know where to begin. I hope as a representative of the university and as a Christian, I practice these verses daily.
Vicki has been married to Manfred for 31 years and is the mother of Twila (25, currently a graduate student at George Washington University) and Heidi (23, a 2014 graduate of George Fox University). She also has numerous inherited sons from Manfred’s 20 years of coaching soccer at GFU. Vicki was born in Roseburg and was a member of Winston Missionary Baptist Church (9 miles south of Roseburg). She has attended NFC since moving to Newberg in 1988, has served on the NFC stewards, and assisted in the nursery and vacation Bible school. She has volunteered at Love INC and provides a monthly meal to the Newberg women’s homeless shelter. Vicki and Twila are both cancer survivors and have been blessed with good health these past few years. In her spare time Vicki enjoys sewing, reading, and Jazzercise.