Counselor reveals inner workings of Mall Cottage

One thing that no one will have to worry about catching Vanessa Pagenkopf doing is nothing.

“I’m always busy. Always,” Pagenkopf said.

That is probably because, as financial aid counselor and student employment counselor, Pagenkopf does the work of at least two people.

Before coming to work at Eastern three and a half years ago, Pagenkopf worked at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California. Working two years in Pepperdine’s financial aid office and two in their student accounts office, this experience prepared her for her work at Eastern.

“The most time-consuming part of what I do is with student employment,” Pagenkopf said.

She explained that this aspect of her work entails reviewing and approving job descriptions, enforcing pay laws, designing the work contracts, advertising jobs, making sure the pay rolls for the jobs are appropriate and collecting and entering time sheets.

Pagenkopf also takes care of what information goes on the web for student employment.

“I try to put as much information on the web as possible,” she said, explaining that, with over 800 students employed, nothing would get done if students were always coming to the student accounts office for information. Students can also find special forms like W-2s, I-9s and time sheets on the web.

Pagenkopf was originally supposed to work mainly in financial aid, but she started working more in student employment when the federal work study program was introduced at Eastern.

“When it came, there was no one else to work on it,” she said.

For the federal work study program, Pagenkopf has to recruit sites and otherwise keep the program in compliance with federal work study regulations.

Keeping with these regulations is a delicate balancing act, because the program needs to satisfy standards set by the department of labor, the department of education, the state of Pennsylvania and Eastern.

As the financial aid and student accounts offices are reconfigured, Pagenkopf has started to work more in financial aid counseling, but it may be a few years before the kinks are worked out.

While Pagenkopf may spend 50 hours a week working with Eastern students’ money down from approximately 60-70 hours, there is more to her life than financial aid and student employment.

She is married with three sons, two of whom graduated from college and one who is about to graduate.

“My husband and I are very much involved in our church, the King of Prussia Church of Christ,” she said.

She also just graduated from Eastern this past December with a degree in management information systems, taking advantage of Eastern’s degree completion program and online classes.

“I loved every minute of it,” she said.

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