New Financial Aid Director shares her unexpected journey to Nichols10 Sep 2020 The road to success is rarely a straight line. Sometimes it’s not even the same road. Just ask Ebony Cole. Cole is the College’s newest Director of Financial Aid, helping students navigate through the monetary maze that is paying for an education. Cole brings a passion for helping students to Nichols – and an interesting story on how she got here. Cole didn’t start her career in financial aid in a way that most would define “traditional.” Instead, she got into it while doing another line of work. “By trade I am a licensed cosmetologist,” Cole said. In fact, Cole has been licensed for nine years and has been practicing for 15. She enjoyed that work, especially since she is an extrovert and can really get people to talk while in a stylist’s chair. And while working as a cosmetologist, she was also teaching her craft at a local trade school in her home state of Connecticut. It was at that school where Cole got her first taste of educational administration – something that really fit her. Cole said while at the school one of the administrators in financial aid left. Cole was asked to fill in until they found someone new. That role turned permanent for Cole and her new career was born. After a period of time, Cole transitioned to a Connecticut college, working in the school’s compliance department, which is the behind-the-scenes portion of financial aid at an educational instituted. Along the way, Cole continued to pursue her own education, as well. First it started with a bachelor’s in psychology, then eventually a master’s in business administration. She’s also currently pursuing a Ph.D. in higher education. It’s this lifelong learning that has really drawn her to working with students in financial aid. Cole said she understands the frustrations and tribulations students face during college because of her own experiences as a first-generation non-traditional college student. “I am your adult learner, I am your first-generation student, So I can relate. When they say beat the odds, that’s me,” she said. And helping students beat those same odds motivates her to come to work each day. “It is completely electrifying to see a student begin and to see a student graduate, she said. “That is what motivates me and keeps me in this industry.” This also shows that her role as Financial Aid Director is about more than just numbers. In fact, Cole may even argue numbers can have little to do with it. “The caveat of it all -- I hate math,” she said.