By Amy Grosso – Grant Coordinator at Round Rock ISD
2015 Conference Scholar
I am an introvert. Many people are surprised when I make such a declaration, because I am a sociable person. I enjoy public speaking and spending time with friends. On the other hand, I shy away from large settings where I do not know anyone. My life as a grant coordinator for Round Rock Independent School District in Texas plays perfectly into my introversion.
As I started my job in May, I was introduced to GPA and quickly learned about the annual conference. I was eager for an important professional development opportunity and a scholarship through GPF made it possible for me to attend. Even though I was ready to learn from others and network, my anxiety slowly rose as I thought about not knowing one person! I was going to be alone in a sea of five hundred people.
I was relieved and happy to find my first GPA conference nothing but positive. It started with the newcomers’ breakfast. As I looked around the room and spoke with a few people at my table, I realized many others were just like me. They were new to the conference and did not know anyone.
I really felt welcome once I got to my Special Interest Group (SIG). I found myself surrounded by others working in similar settings. As I listened, I identified with things being said and took note of new ideas and things to consider. The best part was meeting many individuals also working at school districts in Texas. We discovered we were applying for some of the same grants and discussed how we each were approaching the process. We exchanged contact information and some of us even went to dinner one night.
As I left the SIG time, I no longer felt lost in a sea of five hundred people. I now was part of the five hundred and experienced a sense of community. I am a department of one and during the GPA conference I realized many others are in similar situations. By networking and meeting others, I no longer feel isolated in my work. I returned home with people to contact when I get stuck or need new ideas of how to approach grants in my setting.
Although I had to break out of my introverted shell, attending the GPA conference assisted me in feeling more confident in my career. I look forward to continuing to be part of a remarkable community and nurturing relationships formed.