Heidi Crates, who received both a bachelor's degree in university studies in 2002 and a master's degree in elementary education in 2015 from Eastern New Mexico University, was a work study in the ENMU Office of Financial Aid for four years during her time as an undergraduate. Now, she is back in the office as a financial aid specialist.
She is in charge of financial literacy outreach, default prevention and management, exit counseling and the Return of Title IV Funds, known as R2T4.
Heidi enjoys being able to "help students as they transition into the next step in their lives by providing loan counseling and being able to help current students understand why financial literacy is an important part of their college experience and provide them with resources and skills to manage their finances."
Her current goal is to create a financial literacy program that students can relate to and understand with ease.
"[A lack of] financial literacy is a dangerous epidemic in the United States, and part of the solution is to start educating college students on the importance of basic financial literacy," she explains. "We here at Financial Aid want to help with that education of basic financial literacy and help set students on a path of success in financial awareness while here at ENMU and in the future."
Heidi says her favorite thing about Eastern is interacting with students: "For being such a small community we have a great diverse student population that makes a college experience unique and exciting. You never know who you are going to meet and what you can learn from them!"
The financial aid specialist also teaches dance classes for ages three and up through Distance Learning at ENMU. "My dance students influence and amaze me every day," she shares. "They persevere through all the bad this world surrounds them with to find the good. Each and every one of them are turning into young adults that their parents can be proud of."
The Chi Omega Women's Fraternity alumna was born in Des Moines, Iowa, and grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Her mother has been a dental assistant for 47 years and her father was a stay-at-home dad with an in-home daycare when Heidi and her siblings were children. Once they grew up, her father retired and fully got back into his art and furniture making.
Heidi, who has a nine-year-old daughter named Bella, has two brothers: John, who is a budget analyst at ENMU, and Brian, who passed away. Her younger sister works for Toyota in Clovis, New Mexico, and has a one-year-old named Maddie.
Before working as a financial aid specialist, Heidi served as owner/instructor at Portales Dance Academy, a first grade and kindergarten teacher at Parkview Elementary in Clovis, a nanny in Portales and Albuquerque and an inventory specialist at Golden Flower Chinese Herbs in Albuquerque.
The Greyhound Grad, who volunteers at Central Christian Church, enjoys traveling to Redondo Beach in California when she gets the opportunity. "My grandparents lived there and I have just always loved the community there," says Heidi, who also traveled to Prince Edward Island in Canada because her favorite childhood book, "Anne of Green Gables," is set there.
When asked about her role models, Heidi explains that she doesn't have one in particular and adds, "I think trying to live up to the standards of someone else sets you up for failure. You can only be your best, trying to be someone else is impossible and unfulfilling."