Profile: Alexander Washington
When he came to Mississippi State in 2005, Alexander Washington was enrolling in a school that no one in his family had attended. Eight years and two degrees later, he's still here, working and taking classes, and Washington should finish his doctorate in public policy and public administration by 2016.
As a loan counselor in Mississippi State's Student Financial Aid Office, Washington is passionate about his opportunity to work with students and parents on the critical issue of education funding and financial aid eligibility, he said.
"We have more than 16,000 undergraduates here, and most of them rely on some form of financial aid. In 2012-13, we processed the most FAFSAs (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) in Mississippi State history," Washington said. "Being able to talk to parents and students about how to finance their education has really motivated me to stay in education. I love working here; it's a perfect fit."
Not everyone realizes the Student Financial Aid Office is for all Mississippi State students, he said, but Washington's door is open to anyone who needs financial assistance. He'll do all he can to help.
"I have a poster that reads, 'The Power of Education — Even in the midst of our worst struggles, our forefathers knew that part of our advancement and growth began with a sound education,'" he said. "I want the students to know that we're here to talk to them about anything. If I can't provide the information you need, I can direct you to the right place.
"We are a part of Student Affairs — we're here for the students," he continued. "Each student should find that one administrator, faculty or staff member that they feel comfortable going to. It can open so many doors."
Education is the key weapon against poverty and unemployment, Washington emphasized, and the opportunities he's received at Mississippi State have really empowered him to rise.
Recently appointed to Staff Council, he is participating in MSU's Learning Experience for Aspiring Professionals leadership program, and he's the diversity chair for the Mississippi Association for Student Financial Aid Administrators. He was named Graduate Assistant of the Year for the Division of Student Affairs in 2011 and won the Spirit of State Award in 2009.
After he completes his doctorate, Washington plans to stay in Student Affairs, wherever he may go.
"It fulfills a desire to give back," he said. "I want to have that student interaction wherever I go."Writer: Leah Barbour | Photo: Megan Bean
Next week … Lu Switzer !