A Little Snow Didn’t Stop This Test Taker

By Dale Braden, GPC; Gethsemane Grant Consulting Service and Oregon Health & Science University

2016 GPC Scholar

A short version of my background…I’ve worked at Oregon Health & Science University a total of 20 years. Over the last 11 years, I have helped a total of 63 investigators process over 300 different grant applications. I’ve processed small foundation applications to multi-project federal NIH P01 applications. I manage the entire grant process…I read and interpret the RFA, let investigators know the submission timeline, what sections are needed for the application, help prepare the budget, assemble the entire application, route for institutional approvals and ensure the application is complete and submitted on time. Until a year ago, I also managed the post-award processes including financial projections for funded projects.

My goal is to start a part-time consulting service for now eventually growing to full-time consulting. I have been a GPA member since May 2015. I attended the national conference in St. Louis in November 2015 and went to the session explaining about the GPC. I learned that the GPC is a valuable credential for an independent consultant.

It seemed like studying for the exam was the next step to take after the conference. I spent most of 2016 preparing to take the exam. It made sense to me to study for the exam. I enrolled in the “Blueprints for the GPC” course through SmartEGrants. Some of the material was review; some of the material was new to me. For me, the time spent studying was valuable.

I learned about the scholarship opportunity from the GPA website and was excited to apply. I was very happy and honored to be selected to receive the scholarship. The scholarship added inspiration for me to study and pass the exam.

It has been many years since I have taken any kind of exam so I was pretty nervous about it. The day before I was scheduled to take the exam, Portland was shut down by snow! The Portland State University testing center was closed. The day of the exam, it was not snowing, but the roads were still bad. The news said there were no closures though which was a relief. I made it in to the testing center without any incident.

I felt like the multiple-choice section went pretty well. I was nervous about the written section. The applications I process are for medical research. I’m not a scientist and lack the knowledge to help write the grants. The class I took included a practice writing prompt, and I received excellent feedback on my practice attempt. When I finally sat down and read the exam writing prompt, initially, I didn’t really understand the scenario I was presented. I had a fleeting thought that I should just skip the written part!! I think it was brief anxiety induced writer’s block! I was determined to pass and knew that I had to complete the writing section in order to pass. So, I pressed on.

I was relieved to have the exam in my past instead of my future. The next day, the testing center was closed again due to snow!! During the month before I received the notification that I had passed, I waivered back and forth between thinking I should start preparing to retake the written part to having confidence that I had done well enough to pass. I was elated when I read the email and found out I had passed!

Passing the exam has given me renewed confidence I can become a successful grant consultant. My current next step is taking the SmartEGrants “Grant Consulting Essentials” course. The class is providing information, inspiration and resources to help me figure out how to transition into grant consulting.

One of the opportunities I’m considering pursing is to find a consultant who is willing to sub-contract with other consultants. I believe the credential will be valuable in helping other consultants and potential clients know that I am a skilled and qualified grant professional. I believe the GPC will be instrumental in helping me reach my goal of becoming a successful grant consultant. I am grateful for the scholarship which afforded me the opportunity to take the exam.