With her easy-going personality and knowledge in the financial aid system, Diane Anchundia feels the responsibility to make the financial aid office more appealing to students at the University of La Verne.
She said for years she has felt that students have been afraid to step into the financial aid offices because they feel intimidated by the advisers.
“Financial aid is generally viewed as a DMV office and I’ve always wanted to change that because this department does everything they can to help students fund their education,” said Anchundia.
Born and raised in the east coast, Diane Anchundia never thought destiny would lead her to the west coast where she would eventually land a job as a financial aid director.
As a little girl, she had dreams of becoming a dancer and not once did she think she would be working behind a desk instead of performing in front of an audience.
Anchundia was born Oct. 6, 1973, in Jersey City, N.J. As a child, she spent half her childhood in Manhattan, New York and in northern New Jersey surrounded by her love of the arts, which included dancing, musical theater and photography.
After graduating high school, she attended college for a year before getting a job in the fashion industry.
In fashion, she worked in visual merchandising for designer Donna Karan, as well as collaborated behind the scenes with different fashion photographers and designers.
She worked in the industry for eight years before getting laid off.
Without a job at the age of 27, she decided to re-enroll back in to school.
She ultimately ended up going to Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey where she majored in English and Comparative Literature.
She continued her education by getting a master’s at her alma mater.
“I started a master’s program in media and professional communications, but then my career took a turn for the better,” said Anchundia.
While working at The New School in New York, she got a job offer that would relocate her to the other side of the country.
She got the opportunity to work at a nursing school that would eventually lead her to work at ULV where she has found a nice working environment.
Chris Krzak, dean of admissions, said he is happy that Anchundia has joined the ULV family because she is going to close that “awkward” gap between students and their financial aid advisers.
“She has come up with a new process of bringing together admitted students with their own financial aid advisers,” Krzak said.
Felicia Beardsley, associate dean of College of Arts and Sciences, said one of the reasons why Anchundia is part of the faculty is because of her positive influence and her openness.
“You feel like you’ve known her for ages, even though you’ve just met her because of the instant rapport she has,” Beardsley said. “She has the ability to relate to others.”
Being a first generation student when she went to college, Anchundia can relate with the problems many students approach when it comes to financial aid, especially for first time students.
“We are here to help a new generation find themselves, to be who they are supposed to be,” said Anchundia about her financial aid team.
With a job that feels like home, she sees a bright future ahead of her.
“In the next five years, I see myself probably embarking in a Ph.D. program,” Anchundia said.
“In the next 10 years, I’d like to teach a freshmen seminar influencing young minds, as corny as that might sound.”
Outside of academics, Anchundia’s bucket list includes traveling to Costa Rica, Colombia and Belize.
Clo Hidalgo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.