ITS Staff Member Recognized for Contribution to OneApp Project

Insook Wessels, a systems analyst with Information Technology Services (ITS), was honored as one of the recipients of a 2018 Professional and Scientific Team CYtation Award this week for contributions to the development of “OneApp,” a new scholarship portal for Iowa State students.

The annual CYtation Award program — organized by the Professional and Scientific Awards Committee — recognizes staff excellence among both individuals and groups on campus. Wessels and 11 other university staff members that helped build OneApp were one of four groups to receive team CYtation awards during a ceremony at the Iowa State Alumni Center on March 28. 

Before the creation of OneApp, colleges and departments within the university each had their own process for handling scholarship applications, many of which required time-consuming manual reviewing. The idea for an integrated system students could use to submit scholarship applications in one location was proposed in the summer of 2017, with a full launch for a small pool of returning 2018-2019 students occurring in December 2017. OneApp was expanded to all students after the initial trial run.

To help bring the concept to life, Wessels collected student data from departments including financial aid and admissions to transfer into the new system. While the action itself posed few challenges, the real difficulty was transferring such a large amount of data into a new system with a different login. 

“I’m the IT analyst for financial aid, so I knew that I’d be the person to work on this project,” Wessels said. “It has been more than a year since the initial idea for this project, and I am still working on making OneApp and the current financial aid system work together. It’s challenging work, but it is a wonderful opportunity to be involved with a project that has such an impact on our students.”

Insook Wessels poses with her CYtation Award following the 2018 award ceremony on March 28.

The finished portal can prepopulate scholarship applications with known data from financial aid, and the system also has a matching capability, which makes it easier to find related scholarships outside of financial aid and university colleges. For department scholarships, students are able to access a dropdown menu with opportunities they might have otherwise never pursued or considered. 

“OneApp streamlines the scholarship application process for students and university administration,” said Carol McDonald, director of student information support with ITS. “We have two people with ITS that are experts in Iowa State’s financial aid software, and Insook is one of them. She took the responsibility of building the integrations between ISU’s Student Information System and the Blackboard Award Management system.”

The entire OneApp Implementation Team, made up of Wessels, Ann Wessman, Becky Salz, Caitlin Peterson, Erin Schwartz, Jane Stowe, Julie Arnold, Katherine Mott, Mary Lynn Ullestad-Heneke, Melissa Skinner, Shelley DeHart, and Sheryl Alcott, received its CYtation award at the annual Professional and Scientific Council Awards Ceremony, held in the Alumni Center’s Reiman Ballroom on March 28. 

“Scholarships are crucial to ensuring higher education accessibility for many students,” Interim Vice President and Chief Information Officer Kristen Constant said. “Finding ways to make the scholarship application process easier is an important undertaking, and I am thrilled ITS could play a part in bringing that initiative to life on campus.”