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Chauncey’s Champion Someone making a difference.

Once a Chanticleer, always a Chanticleer

by Megan Foster Bookmark and Share
Chauncey's Champion Samantha Hicks
Chauncey's Champion Samantha Hicks

Staff members in the Financial Aid and Scholarships office at CCU not only have a strong passion for helping students and providing financial aid education, but also for winning the homecoming office decorating competition every year.

Samantha Hicks, the assistant director for client services, is always willing to take charge when it comes to developing a decorating strategy. “It gets pretty serious after winning six years in a row,” said Hicks. “I’m not afraid to show up with a PowerPoint presentation to showcase our plan.”

The Financial Aid and Scholarship staff transform their office in Baxley Hall to fit the homecoming theme each year. Hicks’ favorite design was in 2014 when the office was full of pirates, music, lights and special effects. The staff started conducting mini tours through the office for anyone who wanted to check out their masterpiece. There is even a video on YouTube of their shipwreck design, http://youtu.be/auc8yig1FAM. 

The decorating competition serves as a team bonding opportunity for Hicks and all staff members in the Financial Aid and Scholarship office.

“We love taking part in anything with CCU spirit,” she said. “It is an opportunity for us to be creative and showcase our teal spirit to the campus, the community and potential members of Teal Nation.”

Hicks is a Conway native who grew up rooting for the Chanticleers. She wanted to be near her family, so following her graduation from Conway High School she decided to attend CCU. She held a work-study job in the Financial Aid and Scholarship office while working on her undergraduate degree in elementary education. After finishing her degree in 2009, she taught first grade at Aynor Elementary School.

Though she loved teaching students, she knew she was meant to be working at CCU. “The Financial Aid and Scholarship office is truly a family,” said Hicks. “They kept me informed about the job openings that were available and helped me get back to CCU.” She started full time as a financial aid counselor in 2010 and was promoted to assistant director of client services in 2015 after she completed her MBA.

Hicks understands how difficult navigating financial aid can be. “I am a first generation college student, and I had to figure out everything on my own,” she said. “My family did not know how to help me.” She wanted to share her knowledge with others and make it as simple as possible for CCU students to apply for government funding and find scholarships to help them pay for college.

Hicks often finds herself speaking in classrooms, state association events and community fairs about financial aid.

“Samantha is always looking to continue learning, and she volunteers many hours outside of normal working hours helping groups around the community learn about financial aid,” said Jennifer Runyon, senior associate director of client services and scholarships. “Our students and CCU are lucky to have her working in financial aid and scholarships.”

Hicks pulled from her teaching experience to take advantage of the opportunity to teach a first-year experience class this past semester.

“Working with students really opened my eyes about how lost incoming students can feel when coming to college,” Hicks said. “They need information about simple things, like how to do laundry, in addition to the big stuff like loans and tuition.”

When she’s not working, Hicks enjoys being in her kitchen. Her coworkers share recipes with her frequently, and she tries them out on her husband, Jamal. “When we first started dating, I could not cook at all, and he did everything in the kitchen,” she said. Eventually, she channeled her inner chef and fell in love with cooking. Her favorite dish is currently chicken fricassee, but she is always on the lookout for something new to take its place.

Hicks grew up with five siblings and her parents. She spends most of her free time with her family. She has five nieces and one nephew who keep her occupied. Her husband is one of eight children, and Hicks says the holiday season keeps them bouncing around, trying to see as much family as they can.

During football season, Hicks cheers on the Dallas Cowboys and the Chanticleers. She hangs out at the alumni tealgate on game days. “It’s so cool CCU has so many alumni who still work on campus,” she said.

Hicks is also working on her doctorate degree in higher education leadership from Walden University. Her dissertation focuses on the financial stress that undergraduate students face.

Hicks was nominated as a Chauncey’s Champion by Meg Hurt, the senior compliance auditor in Financial Aid and Scholarships. “Samantha goes above and beyond to assist our students and families in person, via email or presenting during CCU events and high school financial aid events,” Hurt said. “Once Sam has helped a student, they never forget how kind and helpful she is. They almost always insist that she help them again if needed, regardless of the question.”

Coastal Carolina University holds a special place in Hicks’ heart. She loves her job and has done her best to combine her passion for teaching with financial aid. “I love it here,” she said. “I am so happy I can continue helping the community I grew up in.”

Her office door is always open for those who need her or anyone who just wants to stop by and admire the homecoming trophy collection.

Chauncey’s Service Excellence Champions are University employees (faculty or staff) who perform service-oriented actions that go above and beyond their job duties and that meet at least one dimension of service quality. These employees are recognized for outstanding performance and embody the Feel the Teal initiative. To nominate someone for Chauncey’s Champion, visit coastal.edu/feeltheteal, fill out the form and submit it. Approved nominees will receive an exclusive Chauncey’s Champion pullover as well as consideration for additional recognition. View all the Chauncey’s Champions at coastal.edu/feeltheteal/champions/champs.php.
 

Related Photos

Chauncey's Champion Samantha Hicks Student Days: Samantha Hicks (left) held a work-study job in the Financial Aid and Scholarship office while working on her undergraduate degree.One of her colleagues was Dawn Hitchcock (right). Samantha Hicks (left) poses with her siblings, siblings-in-law, nieces and nephew. Samantha and her husband, Jamal Hicks Samantha Hicks pictured in a prop made for one of the CCU Homecoming office decorating contests (won 1st place). Christmas 2017 photo of the Financial Aid and Scholarship staff. Samantha Hicks is second to the right on the bottom row. Cooking is one of Samantha's hobbies. This is her yummy strawberry cake.
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