2022 GPA Conference Scholar Essay, by Andres de los Santos

As I was thinking on attending the GPA Conference in Louisville, Kentucky in person, I was informed of this wonderful scholarship opportunity. I never in my wildest dreams thought I would be awarded. What an honor it was to not only be a member of GPA but be chosen to attend this highly regarded conference as a GPA Scholarship recipient.

I began my journey as a grant writer several years ago when I interned at Miami Dade College’s Resource Development Department. At the time, I was the manager of the library and had a very peripheral understanding of grants. In fact, one of my tasks was organizing and keeping tabs on all the grants the Library department either went for or was awarded.  My curiosity was piqued and so I researched MDC’s Resource Development and learned of an annual internship opportunity the department/college offered and enrolled (and was chosen). 

One of the goals at the end of the internship is to research, find, and write a grant for your department. And lo and behold, I not only found one… I was awarded!  My very first grant, I was now a winner and a Project Director. Fast forward a couple of years, and I am now working at Resource Development as a grant writer. My supervisor recommended that, for my first trip as a grant writer, should be the GPA Conference.

GPA, its staff, and all GPA members I met, not only met my expectations, they exceeded them.

The grant writing industry is ultra-competitive, though I’ve never seen, in such a competitive atmosphere, such camaraderie. Every single person I met was friendly and supportive of each other.  Helping out with personal “Tips & Tricks” of the trade, comparing horror stories, battle scars, and triumphs alike.

My favorite part, of which I was “pleasantly warned”, was that GPA also doesn’t take itself too seriously. As a fellow grant writer I met in the conference said, “The work can be serious… but let’s have fun while doing it.”  Seeing GPA staff dressed in Kentucky Derby attire and the skits performed needed to be seen to be believed.  It was a riot something out of Saturday Night Live!

I genuinely enjoyed my time and learned so much not only from the conference and workshops, but just talking with fellow grant writers or consultants by the popcorn table, over breakfast and coffee, or on a leisure stroll among the beautiful foliage in the Louisville streets (I’m from Miami, so let’s just say MOST of my camera roll is filled with trees!).

I appreciate so much that I was able to be a part of it and look forward to next year!

Thank you,

Andres de los Santos