Olson Moves into Financial Advisor Role

Photo of Maria OlsonMaria Olson is not new to campus, but she is new to her current role. Olson was hired as a financial aid advisor in the Financial Aid and Scholarship Office (FASO) in March. With years of experience advising students in the Office of International Education (OIE) and the American Language and Culture Institute (ALCI), the financial aid advisor role was a natural transition for Olson.

Olson worked in OIE for over five years, and during that time she was given the opportunity to travel overseas on several recruiting trips. She experienced Korea, China, and a multi-leg trip that included China, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam. Each trip was packed with recruiting events and meetings, leaving little time for personal sightseeing, but Olson appreciated the opportunity to travel and experience other people, places, and cultures.

She also participated in the recent campus-organized trip to Cuba and enjoyed the “warm, gracious, and friendly” people there. She was amazed by the resiliency and resourcefulness of the people she met there. Olson appreciated Sara Cooper’s efforts putting the trip together and making it available to staff and faculty. Even though the infrastructure of Cuba needs to be developed in order to better accommodate tourism, Olson hopes to return to Cuba someday to further explore the country.

Olson is not from the Chico area. She came here in 1989 from the Bay Area to go to school. A Butte College and Chico State alumna, Olson completed her degree in international relations in 1995. She is now attending graduate school at Chico State as a part-time student with the goal of completing a master’s degree in communication studies.

Photo of Olson familyDuring her sophomore year at Chico State, she met Jeff Olson, who was working on a double degree in psychology and religious studies. The couple married in 1998 and are the proud parents of two boys; Soren, who is 12 years old, and Leif, who is 7 years old.

The family enjoys going to live music shows and the couple expose their sons to a variety of music, including bluegrass, folk, and indie rock. Olson can be heard on KZFR 90.1 FM, Chico’s listener-supported community radio station, playing her favorite music on her show, Audio Fix. This is her ninth year volunteering as a DJ and programmer at the station.

Adding cultural diversity to their lives is another focus for the Olson family. They are currently hosting a high school exchange student from Madrid for his junior year at Chico Senior High School.

“We wanted to bring the world into our home,” said Olson, “and have our boys experience cultural diversity.”

Photo of Maria Olson and exchange studentHosting an exchange student requires host families to give up some of their privacy, but it also offers an amazing opportunity to help a foreign student learn and grow while experiencing American culture. Olson and her family found that hosting a teenager offers both challenges as well as rewards. Overall, it has been a great learning experience for all of them. In fact, the family may consider doing it again, possibly with a college student next time.

The family enjoys camping, canoeing, hiking, and biking. Olson likes to swim, garden, and do just about anything that gets her outdoors. 

Be sure to congratulate Olson on her new role in FASO. Also, give her show on KZFR a listen and see what you think. You can hear Audio Fix on alternating Sundays from 1–3 p.m. on station 90.1, or you can listen online at www.kzfr.org.