Albert Tezeno began heading Grambling State University’s Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships Feb. 1. Shortly after he became interim associate vice president for Enrollment Management and Retention.Tezeno, a 1990 graduate of GSU, said working in the area of financial aid is one of the most rewarding careers. “It is rewarding to help students conquer their dreams and make them come true,” he said.
Tezeno was the first in his family to go to college, so he did not understand the financial aid process and how getting into college worked. It inspired him to pursue a career in this area, so he could help others who may not understand.
One of the most challenging things he said he has to do is tell a student that he or she is not eligible to receive Title IV funds.
In various capacities, Tezeno said that he always exemplified good customer service. He tells his team that perception is reality. “The way that students perceive us, that’s the way we really are,” he said.
Cheerfully greeting students is very important. “We have to change the perception of the office by administering good customer service to students. We have to change the way we communicate,” he said.
Another problem that he is changing is helping students to understand that when they complete their FAFSA paperwork that it is not the end of the process.
“Many times when students say that their paperwork is lost, they do not understand that completing a FAFSA is the initial process. When they are selected, we need additional paperwork,” he said.
Now, students’ paperwork will be entered immediately into the system and given to the counselor.
Getting students to meet deadlines is a challenge that he has faced at GSU and other schools. It is usually continuing students, not new students.
Some continuing students do not adhere to deadlines and figure they will get their aid processed as soon as they turn in their applications. New students are usually anxious to get started and try to follow-up with their paperwork once they turn it in.
Tezeno is working towards organizing the office better to decrease the number of students standing in line, providing excellent customer service and processing aid more accurately and timely.
“I am very excited. I know we can do this, and I can’t wait until students see we can do this because it is all about our most valuable assets – the students,” he said.
When he arrived at GSU, Tezeno gave each team member words of inspiration to display: “Our performance today is better than yesterday but not as good as it will be tomorrow.”
Tezeno believes his greatest quality is that he can do what anyone else in his area can. He sees himself as a leader, not a boss or supervisor and is willing to serve in any capacity. He refers to his employees as “team,” not “staff.”
This area is not a new one for Tezeno. He started as a student worker in the financial aid office in 1987 and became a counselor in 1993.
After leaving Grambling he worked briefly at Texas College before becoming associate director then director and later executive director at Texas Southern University.
While employed at TSU he was part of a team that helped the university rid itself of a $10 million debt to the Department of Education.
Tezeno said coming back to GSU as financial aid director is a great feeling and says a lot about his integrity, love for the school and the work ethic his alma mater bestowed upon him to make him the leader he is today. He and his wife Sophia have one son, McKinnley.