Chris Rocha is a student success story. Once a student herself, she is now the director of financial aid at Durham College. She is also a voice for students and a loving daughter, mother and wife.
Rocha attended DC in 1980 and used to spend lots of time working out and doing spin classes at the school gym.
Rocha remembers herself as “a bit of a shy student that liked to work with numbers.”
However, like many students, Rocha remembers her experience at DC as stressful.
“My mother had mental health issues and was unable to work and my dad left. I found myself living on my own, without a lot of resources so I reluctantly came into the office,” she says.
She needed financial support and when she went to the financial office, she was greeted by a welcoming woman who helped her get assistance for her tuition.
After graduating from business and finance in 1982, Rocha worked in the accounting department at DC for 10 years. She remembers students coming to collect their cheques for school and looking for financial assistance.
Rocha said this did help her come out of her shell. She enjoyed the student interaction and later moved into the financial aid department where she became a financial aid officer then finally became director of financial aid in 2003.
“It’s a fulfilling job,” she says. “I had financial issues as a student and I actually had to go to financial services here to seek help. I didn’t think I would end up in this role.”
Rocha spends her days meeting with students at DC and helping them with plans for their future and making the student experience as successful as she can.
Years later she is sitting in her office, and says that the best part of her job is “working with people to accomplish their goals.”
“I like to feel the energy around campus and see the people,” says Rocha.
Her office is filled with plants, as well as a red tapestry and a dock-quote picture posted on the wall when you first walk in.
Due to recent cuts in OSAP this year, lots of students are finding themselves in financial trouble, just like Rocha once had.
Rocha reflects on the many students she sees and stresses that students need to see what funding is available to them. She encourages students to come into financial aid if they have any questions about funds.
“Don’t let a loan be a factor to prevent you from creating your dream,” she says.
Rocha’s happiness and career reflect her personal life. She has raised three children with her husband. She owns a house in Florida, enjoys cycling and kayaking outside.
After working at DC for over 10 years, Rocha has formed relationships with her colleagues and students. One of them is the college president, Don Lovisa.
“She’s a colleague, a mother, I know her husband, she’s a family person… She loves her job and she does a good job,” he says.
When Rocha’s days are not filled with numbers and stressed out students, she loves her down time by the dock.
“My escape is reading,” she says. “You can find me on a dock with a book and I’ll stay there for hours.”