This quarter’s Featured Employee is Sharon Clough, Vice President of Financial Aid Compliance at Regent Education. Sharon joined the Regent team in July 2011 and is based out of our Frederick, MD office. Born in Texas, Sharon has lived all across the U.S. but now resides with her husband in Frederick County and is here to stay!
If you want to learn more about Regent, connect with Sharon on LinkedIn.
Q: What was your background before Regent?
A: I spent more than 30 years working at colleges and universities managing federal financial aid. I’ve worked at a variety of institutions; traditional, non-traditional, non-profit and for-profit…all the while building my regulatory and operational knowledge. My particular area of expertise is regulatory compliance. I became interested in pursuing something new and a friend recommended I call Randy Jones, CEO of Regent. Regent was starting to design the latest version of their financial aid management solution, Regent Award, with a focus on non-traditional financial aid. Since I have a strong background in non-traditional financial aid management, I thought I would be a good fit for Regent. I was able to speak with Randy and began working at Regent just a few weeks later. It’s really been a fantastic experience to see how Regent Award has grown. I am proud of the work we do and the quality of our products.
Q: Where are you from?
A: I was born in Texas, but only lived there for the first 5 days of my life. At that time, my dad was the civilian historian at Holloman AFB in New Mexico where he documented early steps in our race to the moon. I spent most of my childhood in Southern California, until we moved to the East Coast when I was in the ninth grade. My husband Earl and I live in Frederick County, MD. We love it here and plan to make this our permanent home.
Q: What’s the toughest part about your job?
A: The toughest part of my job is self-management as there is so much going on. I love that every day is full and different, but sometimes it’s a challenge to focus on a new, complex issue after spending hours deep in another project. It’s not just multi-tasking, it’s being able to transfer all your attention and energy in a new, unexpected direction at a moment’s notice. However it is very satisfying as well.
Q: What do you like to do for fun?
A: Earl and I love taking history trips. We’ve traveled with a group of friends for over 20 years who have introduced us to some really interesting people. Many of our trips are with the Chief Historian Emeritus of the National Park Service – not only is he a lot of fun and a great teacher, he is a national treasure. On our most recent trip we met Lyndon B. Johnson’s pilot. He flew LBJ through his presidency and retirement until his very last flight taking the President to the hospital after his final heart attack. We also met the man who drove Lee Harvey Oswald to work the day of the Kennedy assassination. Folks like these talk about their lives and make us feel as if we are touching history. I also treasure my time with a local animal rescue – my Sunday mornings with the kitties really help give me some balance, as does time spent outdoors anywhere from a national park, to the beach, to working in our yard.
Q: What’s a fun fact about yourself?
A: I went on tour to Costa Rica as a senior dancer of the Maryland Youth Ballet. We were guests of the government, performed at the National Theater, were on TV and had tea with the U.S. Ambassador. I was very serious about dancing back then. Many of my classmates later became soloists for American Ballet Theatre and other major companies. But, at 17, I was ready for a change and stopped dancing.
Q: What do you like best about the work you do at Regent?
A: Learning! This is my first time working with a technology company, so the culture is different. Things move faster and with greater demand for creativity than I’ve seen as the norm in higher education. I’ve learned to contribute within this new culture and there is always more to learn about financial aid. Another thing I enjoy is liaising between our customers and our technology department. I can understand what our clients are saying since I sat behind their desks in the past. Plus, I get to do all this while working with the awesomely smart and fun people here at Regent.
Q: How does your role help customers successfully use Regent products?
A: Our clients rely on Regent to provide them with a compliant solution for a myriad of federal and operational requirements. I draw on my knowledge and experience, other financial aid colleagues here at Regent, continual research, and discussion with very supportive folks at the Department of Education to help Regent provide a flexible yet compliant, financial aid management solution to our customers.