By Jamie McKay, Staff Writer

Shirley Yankura

Shirley Yankura
(Photo by Jamie McKay).

   The University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) announces, the retirement of a remarkable staff member, who has served the financial aid office for fifteen years from 1997-2013, Shirley Yankura.

   Rob Milliken, Director of Financial Aid, wrote a retirement announcement on behalf of Yankura, Associate Director of Financial Aid, which was sent to all staff and faculty on campus. “It is with mixed emotions that I am announcing the upcoming retirement of Shirley Yankura,” said Milliken. “We are sad to see Shirley leave, but excited with her about the many opportunities ahead for her in retirement.”

   Yankura shows a slight smile of ease as she describes her most treasured memories here at UMF. “I think the most rewarding part of working in financial aid, regardless of the position you fill, is that you watch young people become successful and move onto the next phase of their lives,” said Yankura. “It’s always an emotional time when you see them leave.”

   Initially a request of retirement was arranged by Yankura, which was later changed. On May 1, 2013 the request was revised and shortly it resurfaced, the job was offered to an inside source, Roy Burdin.

   Burdin currently serves as the Financial Aid/Admissions Counselor for UMF. Prior to graduating from UMF in 2011, Burdin completed an internship with the financial aid office.

   The University decided to advertise for Yankura’s job internally. Shortly after the announcement was revised, the job was offered to Burdin. He immediately accepted it and started shadowing Yankura, which will last for one and a half weeks before her final day of work on March 29, 2013. “It definitely is a daunting task right now, especially being here for a week and I get about a week and a half with Shirley to try and absorb so much knowledge as I can to carry on,” said Burdin. “Right now it is kind of like the beginning of a semester when you get the syllabus and you see all of the assignments you have to do.”

   Luckily for Burdin, Yankura is open for emails, and phone calls from him asking for advice or help as he gets fully aquainted with the job. Yankura tries to lighten the mood with a slight chuckle, “He is going to tattoo my phone number to his arm,” said Yankura.

   Yankura initially decided to work in the financial aid office at UMF in the middle of August in 1997. She arrived on campus two weeks prior to the start of the school year, however was not a newbie to the financial aid or work study world.

   In January of 1982, Yankura was hired by The University of Maine at Augusta (UMA) as a frontline person in their financial aid office. The front line personnel greet students that come in with questions. The questions are not in depth questions as the frontline personnel cannot answer those. If there was an in depth question, the student would get passed onto someone in Yankura’s current position, Associate Director of Financial Aid.

   After proving successful as a frontline person, Yankura moved on to become the Student Personnel Position, then assistant director, associate director and when she left UMA, Director of Financial Aid. Yankura contributed fifteen years of her life to the UMA financial aid team, before coming to Farmington.

   Yankura shows a slight smirk on her face as she describes the real reason she got started in the Financial Aid Business. “My husband was self employed, so one of us had to have a real job (laughing),” said Yankura. “That is basically what threw me into financial aid. I saw the job and here I am.”

   Yankura’s success was widely viewed on campus as well as with many families. Carrie McKay, mother to a sophomore at UMF notes her mixed emotions about Yankura’s retirement. “Somebody with that kind of experience is exactly what a parent likes to have when they are dealing with financial aid,” said McKay. “She knows who I am, she knows exactly what we have discussed, exactly how to answer, and she knows what I need to do to help circumstances financially.”

   Burdin notes, with a stern look, the advantages of having a mentor such as Yankura who is able to provide him with a steady knowledge base as well as contacts. “I just want to do the best I can. I know that it will be a big task,” said Burdin.

   Many have expressed their thanks and gratitude towards Yankura for all of the work she has put into her job, as ell as her open and likeable personality. “She will definitely be missed. If I was close, I would go to her retirement party and beg her not to retire for at least two more years!” said McKay.  “We will miss her!” said Milliken.