Brian Lemma

About Brian Lemma

I am an Associate Director in the Office of Student Financial Services at Georgetown where I have been since 2000. Prior to my role at Georgetown I spent two years working in the financial aid office at Lebanon Valley College in Annville, PA. I am a proud graduate of Elizabethtown College (the Fighting Blue Jays), I am married and I have two children, ages 17 and 14. I love long walks in the park and scrapbooking but my biggest loves are my family and the Philadelphia Eagles, usually in that order.* *NOTE: Writer tolerates long walks in the park and hates scrapbooking.

Ramblings from the father of a college freshman

So I turned on the television yesterday and I learned that there was a presidential election coming up. Why is no one talking about this as it seems very important? My only hope now that news outlets are reporting on the election is that the candidates will run a positive, uplifting campaign.

I plan to review both candidates’ higher education proposals. As long as they don’t do anything earth shattering like use 2015 tax returns in 17-18 then I can handle it.

My sources are telling me this already happened and it’s called PPY.

What kind of a name is PPY anyway? It lacks a certain creativity. And why am I always the last to know?

Moving on.

I am pleased to start blogging again and I hope I have interesting things to share with you throughout the year. If they are not interesting, don’t despair. EASFAA is assembling a team of bloggers so surely the other writers will leave you entertained and/or informed.

I can only speak for myself here but you have my guarantee that I will not once, no matter how hard it is, mention the election or PPY. Consider this your safe space.

I have spent the better part of the last two decades working with students. I love what I do and I cannot imagine doing anything else. This last year was different though. I have a (gulp!) college freshman. Going through the college search has opened my eyes to all of the stresses that families experience on their way to finding the right fit. I suspect the experience will guide my future interactions and I hope make me a better financial aid professional.

In my house we talk a lot about making good choices and in the months leading up to move-in day we offered many pieces of advice to my daughter. I meant to write them all down in a beautiful, heartfelt letter to her but life got in the way. So forthwith I share my words of advice for new college students, sans the sugary exposition.

Fail…a lot!
Never go to a party alone.
Call your parents every week.
Learn to budget your time.
Be sensitive to your friends’ economic stations.
Find success in your failures.
Always leave a party with the friend you went with.
Call your parents every week.
When at a party, never leave your drink unattended! If you do, dump it and get another one.
Don’t spread yourself too thin. Instead, pick a few things you really love and commit to them.
Call your parents. Did I mention that one?
Make eye contact.
Give a firm handshake.
Take advantage of office hours.

What am I forgetting? Join the conversation by sharing your advice below.

See you in this space again soon.

So many choices and so little time

So Day 2 is upon us and there are many sessions from which to choose. I always obsess about this when I am at a conference. Since I cannot go to every session I have to decide where I am going to get the best ‘bang for my buck’ that I can take back to the office and share with the rest of the staff. I have a colleague with me so I will most likely seek her out so we can divide and conquer. Right now this is where I am leaning:

Who is Your Point of Contact? Awarding or Veterans
IPADs in the Financial Aid Office
US Presidents and Financial Aid
Online Programs: Challenges and Solutions

I will let you know how they went.

Unless I go to different sessions.

Decisions, decisions, decisions.

It has arrived

Our members are checked in.  The meeting rooms are ready.

After all of the work to put this conference together it is finally here.  In 25 minutes I will welcome the membership and the conference will begin.  Please check this blog for regular updates.

I’m off to brush up on my Spanish.

Hey EASFAA, what have I missed?

How are you? It’s been a long time.  I would have written sooner but then April happened.  Yeah, that’s the ticket, it was April’s fault.

If your name is April, I apologize. I actually meant the month.

Between awarding prospective students (i.e. making dreams come true while simultaneously crushing the dreams of others), clearing spring account balances and getting summer aid finalized, there has been little time.  And don’t even get me started on the waitlist.  Tis the season.

It’s hard to believe that the EASFAA conference is only 6 days away.  And In just 8 days I will be handing the gavel over to my excellent colleague, and more importantly, my good friend, Tony Erwin.  He has the makings of a great president and the golden pipes of Justin Bieber.  Don’t believe me? Ask him to sing a song.

Today it occurred to me that I am now a full-fledged lame duck.  (Bloggers note:  I have never been a lame duck before, but I am called lame.  A LOT! Just ask my children.)

But I digress.

By the time the conference begins we will have over 370 registered attendees.  Of those attendees, we will be joined by over 60 of our colleagues from Puerto Rico.  If you are coming to Puerto Rico the opportunity to connect with old friends and make so many new ones awaits you.  I can’t wait for it to get started.

If you cannot attend, do not despair.  We have assembled a team of bloggers and Facebook posters so you can read about the highlights and see the pictures as they happen.

At Tuesday’s business meeting lunch I look forward to sharing some of our accomplishments from the past year and recognizing the hard work of those that made it happen.  I hope that my words will adequately express my gratitude to my colleagues on the EASFAA leadership team and to all of you as well.  Everyone who reads this blog and visits our FB page is part of our growing EASFAA Community.  And all of you had made this an amazing ride.

Look for more right here on Sunday.

Safe travels.

Lou Palefsky lounges poolside at the El Conquistador Resort (Disclaimer: No rafts were hurt during the planning of this conference.)

Lou Palefsky lounges poolside at the El Conquistador Resort (Disclaimer: No rafts were hurt during the planning of this conference.)


















Some acronym makes a difference

This past Saturday I had the honor to walk with Team EASFAA in the 8th Annual National Epilepsy Walk.  We walked around the tidal basin amidst the bare Cherry Blossom trees and in the distance we could see the Jefferson and Martin Luther King Memorials.  It was a cold morning but we didn’t mind.  It was hard to feel cold when we were joined by over 6000 other walkers whose amazing spirit kept us warm.

walk photo 3


My post today is a bit of a departure from the usual.  I want to entertain you, of course, but I have no plans to promote the conference or other EASFAA services.  No, today I simply write to say thank you.  All year we tried to educate our membership about epilepsy and how prevalent it is in our society.  Along with awareness, like any disease, money is needed to assist families and conduct research.

walk photo 2


So, thank you for helping EASFAA raise $3738.  We had over 40 individual donations from aid professionals around the country and, in some cases, their friends.  It is very uplifting when we come together for a common cause.

Vice-President Wynette Zuppardi joined Team EASFAA as a virtual walker.

Vice-President Wynette Zuppardi joined Team EASFAA as a virtual walker.

We all know how to pronounce the ASFAAs, right?  When you see E-A-S-F-A-A you know it is pronounced eesfah.  For those outside the financial aid community, not so much.  Our group had two funny moments during the walk.

First, I acquired a brand new 8 foot long EASFAA banner.  As we approached the start of the walk, the man with the microphone looked at our banner, dropped his head to his roster of teams, feverishly turned pages, then looked up again and announced the team behind us.  It was pretty funny to see his panicked expression at not knowing how to pronounce our team name.

Now fast forward to the finish line. The same man is there, microphone in hand, ready to announce our finish.  Once again our banner was proudly displayed.

walk photo 1


“And next to finish…. (pause)….E – A – S – F – A – A.  At least he spelled our name this time.

It was a pleasure to walk with my wife (who was very protective of our banner, I’ll have you know), my children, my mother and father-in law and my sister-in law and her family.  My niece Ainsley, that I have written about before was able to see lots of other children like her, who struggle with the same things she does. I am sure she will look back on this walk and take comfort in it.

More thank yous. (Do you have to use complete sentences when you write a blog?)

Melissa Rakes has spearheaded all of our epilepsy initiatives this year.  She has given her time and talents to this and made it important to her.  She drove an hour and a half each way and rode a train to get to the walk. It was doubly nice that she brought her son and I had the pleasure of meeting this nice young man.

Pat Shoemaker is chairperson for Tri-State.  For those of you who have met Pat, you know that she will do anything to advance a cause that she believes is important.  I am proud to serve with her on the EASFAA Council this year.

Alice Farnham is EASFAA secretary. She is my colleague and my friend and I have been with her on Council for the last four years.  I can count on her 100% of the time and it meant so much that she was there to walk with my family.

Thank you to my entire EASFAA family for sharing this with me.