Humans of Saint Martin's: Deborah Long '77
I incorporate the responsibilities and values I hold as a mother into the way I work with students because I want them to feel empowered and confident enough to take control of some of the more complicated things in life, like finances, that may seem out of their control.
- Deborah "Debbie" Long '77
- Associate Vice President for Student Financial Services
Although there have been many defining moments in my life, looking back, I think the most pivotal one would have to be when I became a mom. Becoming a mom or a parent changes your life drastically. Everything that you thought was true, right, and just, and all of the things that you value, come to light because now you’ve got a person that you’re raising, who’s going to be watching you and following how you live. Everything you do helps define them, and when you think about wanting to raise compassionate, respectful people, words alone aren’t enough to teach them. You have to live by these values, and actually show them what that looks like. These values and responsibilities that I carry with me through motherhood are very important to me, and this is one of the things that has kept me at Saint Martin’s for so long. Because I believe so strongly in compassion, listening, and respect for persons, it has been really easy for me to stay at Saint Martin’s.
These values of motherhood cross over with how I do my job here. Listening is a huge one, in that students come to Student Financial Services to talk to us because they have things that they’re concerned about and often don’t understand their finances. You have to be able to listen to the students’ stories and try to realize and appreciate their perspectives because all students have different life experiences. Money concerns are stressful, and I’ve always believed that the best thing to do is to educate students by helping them gain an understanding of their school finances. Our office may not always be able to fix the issue, but the more students understand what’s going on, the more they feel heard, and the more they feel empowered to confront it and make an informed decision. I’ve always felt this way with my kids; if you can understand, if you can learn, if you can be a compassionate, responsible person, that empowers you to take control of your own life. It teaches people what kind of questions to ask when they go out in the world. Through my job, I’ve been able to help students graduate, and I believe that if some of them had gone to another school that doesn’t uphold the same values that Saint Martin’s does, there is a possibility that they wouldn’t have been able to finish because of finances.
My team and I in Student Financial Services work really hard with students to help them get things in order, so that they feel confident enough to continue. The thank you notes that I receive from students and parents mean a lot to me, and that’s why I continue to do what I do. It’s not an easy job – it’s not easy to work on the financial side of things, which can be very stressful and often overwhelming. My role here is not merely to collect money, but more so to counsel students, show them their options, and help them learn how college finances work. I incorporate the responsibilities and values I hold as a mother into the way I work with students because I want them to feel empowered and confident enough to take control of some of the more complicated things in life, like finances, that may seem out of their control.