PAPA graduate finds outlet for leadership skills learned in program, becomes Financial Aid Director at local college

2009 Public Administration and Policy Analysis (PAPA) graduate Jill Klostermann found an administrative outlet for her abilities and talents.

Public Administration and Policy Analysis graduate Jill Klostermann has transitioned from the program into various leadership roles, in particular, as Financial Aid Director at Kaskaskia College in Centralia. Courtesy of Klostermann.

Recently she was placed in the Director of Financial Aid position at Kaskaskia College in Centralia.

Since being employed first as an administrative assistant there several years ago in the Title III department, she found a strong desire to serve students, contribute to the college environment and the work atmosphere.

Klostermann said she found Kaskaskia College to be a supportive environment where people’s talents were encouraged to be used to the best of their ability.

“What I like most is that I have never felt confined by my position,” Klostermann said. “Everyone can feel free to do different projects and expand our knowledge and experience.”

Projects included a Title III Grant project to strengthen higher education institutions, for which she was hired for in 2010.

According to Klostermann, the $2 million project spanned five years to improve the education for the roughly 12,000 students who attend the community college.  This project had a strong emphasis in curriculum redesign and faculty development.

The project, according to Klostermann, integrated new technology in classroom and curriculum design to aid  transitional students in their preparation for college level courses.

Klostermann said that is the highlight of the school: helping students reach their goals; to get their associate’s degree so they then can get their bachelor’s or pursue other avenues.

“We want to make it as easy as possible to get students where they want to go, maybe an education at SIUE, another university or get a certificate to go straight to work,” Klostermann said.

Klostermann added that the opportunity was exciting to her when placed in the position.

“To me, it was a way serve students,” Klostermann said. “I’ve learned a lot and I get to work with a lot of great people.”

In summer 2013, Klostermann was asked to be both the Title III Grant Director, which she had been promoted to in 2011, and the Director of Financial Aid position.

This fall marked the end of the 5-year Title III project, and Klostermann became full-time permanent director of financial aid.

According to Klostermann, she enjoys the interaction with students through her position.

“Working with students one-on-one is really exciting and really awarding,” Klostermann said. “It allowed me to see the opportunities that higher education can offer students through financial aid.”

Programs that assist students, according to Klostermann, include an active foundation that provides hundreds of scholarships for many different types of students: those majoring in agriculture, business or music, for example, and those who are single parents or supporting other family members.

Klostermann added that the foundation holds an emergency fund for students that may need gas money, lose a job or are in between paychecks.

According to Klostermann, unlike many other community colleges, Kaskaskia College has a GED program where graduates from the GED program qualify for a full scholarship to get their associate’s degree.

One of the reasons Klostermann said she believes she got this job was that she interacted with many people around campus who got to know her skillsets: being a good manager; recognizing people’s strengths, developing teamwork, being easy to work with and taking on new challenges.

Klostermann said she accredits her background and training in the PAPA program for her preparation into such a position.

“Because I did the PAPA program, I transitioned seamlessly into an administrative role,” Klostermann said. “I took a lot of what I learned in the PAPA program, and been able to apply it several times over.”

Klostermann said her degree focusing on non-profit management, grant writing, human resources and public policy helped shape her career-wise.

“I think overall the program prepared me for the professional workplace and made me adaptable to my surroundings because I learned so many things in that program,” Klostermann said. “That base of knowledge could be applied everywhere.”

Previous to her position with the college, Klostermann worked as office manager at WCXO-Clinton County Broadcasting where she did commercial programming, commercial recording and kept the radio personalities on task.

“I got to experience a different work environment and it was a fun job,” Klostermann said. “I learned how workplaces can function and still be very fun. “

She also served an Internship for the University City Government in St. Louis through the PAPA program.

“That was really interesting to see policy creation and execution from that side,” Klostermann said.

“I enjoyed my time at SIUE earning my master’s degree and treasure the education and experiences I got during that time.  It absolutely shaped the start of my career. I do not believe I would be where I am at the age of 29 without the education I received from the PAPA program,” Klostermann said.

Klostermann now resides in Breese Illinois with her husband Paul, a fellow SIUE grad and their daughter.  In 2007, Klostermann earned her bachelor’s degree in history from SIUC.

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