UHV alumnus elected to president of financial aid association

The path that led Robert Merino to the field of financial aid services started when he was an undergraduate student worker at the University of Houston-Victoria. Now, the UHV School of Business Administration alumnus is tapped to lead a statewide financial aid association.

Robert Merino

Merino, the dean of financial aid services at San Jacinto College in Pasadena, recently was named the president-elect of the Texas Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. He will serve as the 2021-2022 president starting in October.

“I am extremely honored,” Merino said. “I am taken by how the board members thought highly enough of me to do well in this position. I look forward to representing all the financial aid employees in the state.”

Merino is a 1997 graduate of the UHV School of Business Administration, where he received a Bachelor of Business Administration with a concentration in accounting. In 2002, he received an associate of applied science in computer information systems from San Jacinto College. In 2007, he earned a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in management of information systems from the University of Houston-Clear Lake.

The Texas Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators advances student access to higher education and promotes student financial aid programs in postsecondary institutions in the state. The association also provides professional development for members, facilitates communications, activities and services among those involved in student financial aid administration, and advocates for informed public policies. Merino has been an association member for nearly 24 years.

Jifu Wang

In addition to the association, Merino serves as past-chair of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board Financial Aid Advisory Committee and leads the Texas Application for State Financial Aid Advisory Committee. He previously served as chair of the Texas Guaranteed Center for Community Colleges Advisory Board and served on the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board negotiated rulemaking committee. He was named the 2013 president of the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce Hispanic Business Council and was awarded the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce Committee Chair of the Year.

“It is always wonderful to hear about how great our alumni are doing and the impact that a UHV education can make,” said Jifu Wang, associate dean of international initiatives for the business school. “UHV helps build in each student the knowledge and skills necessary not only for careers, but also to lead in our communities. We have so many great alumni, and we are proud to hear about Mr. Merino’s accomplishment.”

As a student, Merino transferred to UHV from Wharton County Junior College to complete his undergraduate degree. He thought accounting was an important field that always would be in demand. While at UHV, he learned more about the profession from the late accounting professor David Satava, who instilled in him the importance of bookkeeping skills and thinking and staying ahead, including keeping up with software that is used in accounting. He also served on the Student Government Association and the Mexican American Student Organization.

Merino found his education in accounting helpful when he worked as a student assistant in UHV Financial Aid. Not too long after he graduated, he was informed of a position at San Jacinto College that required accounting and financial aid experience. He was offered the position, and since 1997, he has worked his way up from financial aid bookkeeper to now dean of financial aid services.

“I am extremely proud of my education from UHV and my involvement in the Student Government Association as it prepared me for my involvement in the committees I am a part of throughout the state,” he said.

Merino has been with the Texas Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators for 24 years and for the last several years has served on the board of directors.

Merino looks forward to leading the board and working with other financial aid staff members to better serve students at Texas colleges and universities. He also encourages students to always apply for financial aid at the same time they are filling out their college paperwork.

“Apply even when you think you don’t qualify because there is a chance there are funds available to you,” he said. “We are here to help in your higher education journey.”

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.

Amber Aldaco