She is an adventurous backpacker, a world traveler, a wife, a mother, and a soon-to-be first-time grandmother.
She is Patricia “Patty” Williams, the Director of Financial Aid at McDaniel College. From grants and scholarships to federal loans to government paperwork, she is a hard worker for the sake of McDaniel students.
Born in California and raised in Minnesota, Williams moved around a good bit before settling outside Westminster. While her father was in the Navy, she became accustomed to a life of spontaneity and travel and it shows.
“The financial aid world is one of constant change,” says Ellie Geiman, Associate Director of Financial Aid. “Patty is able to turn on a dime and keep up with everything from the change of the economy and how it affects students to the ever-changing government regulations.”
For Williams, there is no average day of work, even after 16 years at McDaniel. “There are a wide variety of things that have to be done depending on the time of year,” she says.
No matter how hectic things are in the Financial Aid Office, Williams stresses that “the students come first.”
When sophomore Megan Robinson was considering transferring last spring, her final decision was solely based on what her financial aid package would be. However, she needed to decide whether she was staying at McDaniel before financial aid packages for returning students were expected to be completed.
“When I discussed my issue with Patty, she told me that she would figure out my package early so I could make a decision,” says Robinson. “My financial aid ended up being even greater than I anticipated and I decided to stay!” Her situation resulted in a great outcome because of Williams going above and beyond to help her.
“To me, Patty Williams is literally the reason that I am at McDaniel College right now,” comments Robinson.
Christine Mathews, also a McDaniel staff member, has been walking with Williams almost daily on their lunch breaks since December of 1995.
“I guess the walking tradition started because we both know that we do so much better in our jobs if we get some exercise in the middle of the day,” says Mathews. Their walks are not always in perfect weather either.
“Yes there have been a couple of times over the years when we have come back to campus soaked through – but it was also kind of funny,” reminisces Mathews.
Off campus, Williams is even more adventurous. “Both she and her husband are very active in the Mountain Club of Maryland,” says Mathews. Williams loves hiking and backpacking off the beaten path. She has traveled to the Swiss Alps twice, to Italy, to remote areas of the wilderness out west in the U.S., and various other places.
She ventured to the Arctic Wildlife Refuge in Alaska and saw everything from a grizzly bear to a moose. This summer she is hoping to go to Scotland with her husband.
Asked if she would ever leave her job, Williams replies honestly, “No, not for another job. For early retirement or opportunities to travel? – Yes!” Her sense of humor along with her passion for adventure is apparent.
Back home, Williams is a proud wife, a mother of one, and is extremely excited to become a grandmother in three months. “My daughter doesn’t want to know the sex of the baby, and she’s not telling us about names either,” says Williams.
Williams cares a lot about McDaniel students, but is also able to separate work from her personal life and doesn’t take work home with her. “I do that purposely so that I can be refreshed,” says Williams.
Williams always makes sure to help keep everything in the Financial Aid Office running smoothly. Her continuous dedication, reliability, and charm are just a few of the reasons why she is admired by McDaniel students and faculty. Patty Williams cares, and that is apparent in how she runs her life both at home and here at McDaniel College.