The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

Bursar Saves Future From Behind A Desk

associate bursar

Solving problems is her thing, and Rhonda Brown does her “thing” well. When students get a chance to negotiate payment options or are granted work-study after filling out an appeal, it is usually a miracle orchestrated by Brown, an associate bursar in Student Financial Services.Brown helps thousands of students yearly stay in school, whether it is through a grant or a helping someone find an on-campus job.

Students are constantly coming back for more help, and even recommending their friends and family to visit Brown’s office.

Helping from the heart, she does her job, not for the recognition, but because she cares. “Just seeing someone who graduates, who I helped is a good feeling,” Brown said.

Brown, a Touro University graduate, received her undergraduate degree in psychology, hoping to somehow impact the world through gaining insight into the minds of others, but somehow ended up at St. John’s University Student Financial Services.

From there it was history; over the last 12 years she has quickly climbed the totem pole at St. John’s after spotting the job online while working at Hofstra University.

Starting at the front desk, she now sits in her own office decorated with 12 core leadership values: responsibility, success, strength, strive, respect, individuality, reflection, character, vision, opportunity, achievement, determination, strength, growth, and reflective; ideals she believes all students should keep in mind.

“We look to her for expertise in payment plans and her vast wealth of knowledge in accounts and processing refund checks,” said William Kuzmack, senior assistant director of Student Financial Services.

Crediting her career path to a work-study gig she had throughout her undergraduate years at college, Brown notes that when she graduated she took the first job available in financial services because it was something she grew to love.

Understanding that nothing goes to waste, she considers her psychology degree to be the reason she is able to successfully do her job.

Brown believes psychology is the basis for her ability to understand and predict the behavior of the many students she comes into contact with daily.

By using her degree, she is able to effectively communicate with students and learn how to be a team player.

“She is very good at assisting students and discussing tuition at a professional level,” said Donna Reid, a customer service representative.

Knowing that working with people’s financial situations will always be a touchy and difficult subject, Brown constantly keeps her spirits high and stays positive.

“I bring faith with me every day,” says Brown. “I believe whatever you do in life it comes back, so I try to help all fairly.”

Keeping true to her word, she works hard to come into the office every day with an open mind and heart.

Going to bat for students daily, Brown wants all students to know that giving up is not an option.

Hating to see students give up on their dreams of graduating from St. John’s, she makes it her business to exhaust all efforts to try and help students cut the cost.

Even though every story does not have a happy ending, she still wants students to put up a fight.

Brown tells students, “There is no problem too big. You just have to dissect.”

“You can’t always get a ‘Yes,’ sometimes a ‘No’ comes out, but you have to be able to deal with it. That ‘No’ is just for now, it could eventually be ‘yes.’”

Understanding that it’s easy to get distracted, she wants all to know that dreams do come true.

Whether you’re a student from a low-income family or struggling with paying your own tuition, Brown wants all students to know that there are options.

Her solution to any problem is to come in and talk about it, because you might get the answer you wanted.

Constantly having so many students come into her office, complaining about the price of tuition or their lack of resources, she assures them that the opportunities that students have access to from simply being a Johnny is definitely worth the cost.

“St. John’s is expensive, but it is a liability. Rather you go out to the events or not, you are still paying. So you might as well go.”

Looking forward to what’s next in life, Brown is considering starting a new journey in life as a student. Possibly joining her daughter, who is currently a junior at St. John’s, she is on the fence about her decision to join the race to a diploma. Maintaining her “go for it all” attitude, she has lots of hope for the future.

“Right now is right now, but later is later,” says Brown when it comes to staying optimistic.

Serving as a financial counselor and much more, Brown has proved herself to be more than a woman behind a desk.

She dedicates much of her time to giving students valuable advice as they pursue a college degree and prides herself on giving students 100 percent each day.

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About the Contributor
Briawnna Jones, Entertainment Editor
Briawnna is a junior communications major who intends to bring student life to lifestyle.

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