Campus Closeup: Scott Thum

It’s rare he receives anything like a thank-you card, but Scott Thum (Financial Aid) helps many of NMU’s students make it through school financially sound.

Thum has been with the department for nearly four years. His responsibilities as assistant director range from work with direct student, private, and parent loans to monitoring the amount of money that is given to students. He also helps with the financial aid for Northern’s Police Academy and the TEACH grant program for educators.

As much as Thum likes working with numbers, his favorite part of his job is helping students achieve their goals. That is made more challenging for them by waiting until the last minute to learn about financial aid, or for those who take out too much money. He said he finds himself wishing he could limit the amount that students borrow while still allowing them to meet their goals. Thum finds creative ways to help them in the immediate future and through graduation.

“It’s rewarding to work with students who are dedicated to completing their degrees, and then see that they graduated and did well while they were at school.”

Thum graduated with a political science degree from NMU in 1997. Despite his interest in numbers, Thum never took a math class while at NMU. His advanced track in high school allowed him this luxury. A highlight of his time at Northern was participating in “Haywire," an original musical by Shelley Russell (CAPS) that won a regional competition. Thum got to perform with the cast in Washington, D.C.

“For never doing anything in the theater before, or sadly enough, since, it was a good way to begin and go out,” he said. “Performing at the Kennedy Center was just amazing.”

After college, Thum left for a semester internship in Lansing, but knew he would one day come back to the Upper Peninsula. He spent one year in Americorps and four in the private sector before becoming interested in financial aid at Wayne State. It wasn’t long before he moved back to the area and managed to secure a job with NMU’s financial aid department.

Thum enjoys many outdoor activities, such as camping, hiking and tennis. He spends his free time at his family's log cabin home with his wife, Jennifer, and two-year-old son, Andrew. "Playing with my son is the most fun in the world," he added.

The family owns two dogs and three cats, but they also volunteer to serve as a foster home for the Marquette County Humane Society when the facility receives more animals than it can accommodate. Thum's family has so far fostered three kittens, a mother cat and her litter of five, a puppy, another cat and two elderly dogs.

“We became involved because we're both animal lovers and seeing animals, especially older ones at the MCHS, made us want to help. We also knew we shouldn't adopt any more animals. We asked if they needed foster homes and they did.”

All of the animals the family has fostered have been adopted. It's exciting to see them find a home, but Thum said he still finds it difficult to give them up after growing attached through housing them temporarily.


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Updated: October 15, 2009

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