By Katy Shoemaker, Grant Writer, Thanksgiving Point Institute
Leadership Member Scholar – Utah Chapter
Upon graduating college or entering the first few years of your career, the question, “What is your direction and what are you going to do for a profession?” is constantly posed. Society creates a pressure for those entering their career, those exploring new careers and those who have lost their way to find direction. Directions could be found in the most unobvious places, when one is most unsuspecting. My direction, whether it be life, career or both, was found through writing grants and becoming a part of the Grant Professionals Association-Utah Chapter.
GPA has been my connection and entry-way into the grants field in so many ways. My year of public service that I completed with AmeriCorps VISTA led me blindly into a GPA-Utah Chapter training one sunny afternoon, and I was hooked. The people, professionalism, topics and the networking were just profound. I immediately felt as though I was among a group of my peers in the grants field and this was a welcoming feeling. After this training, I was graciously provided with a membership to GPA through the organization that I was employed with. I joined the Communications Committee and was soon asked to be the Vice President of the chapter. This soared me to levels I never even imagined possible. I found myself representing GPA everywhere I went, to whomever would listen. I wanted everyone in our community to know what a great organization GPA is and what a wealth of helpful professional development resources for grant and development professionals it provides.
As such, the feeling was profound when I was notified that I was selected to receive a membership scholarship through the Grants Professionals Foundation, a smile fell across my face and I felt so grateful. I was at a point in my career where I was unsure if I would be able to financially afford the cost of the membership on my own, and this was detrimental to my professional growth and development. I couldn’t imagine my life without being involved in GPA and this scholarship allowed me the opportunity to continue to be not only involved, but to professionally grow and develop within my grant community.
Being involved in GPA in fact has made me become a more passionate grant professional in my community. My favorite question is, “You actually LIKE writing grants?”. Every time I am asked this question I actually laugh out loud (which probably makes me seem even more crazy), but it is true, I find it so funny that other people, especially in the nonprofit sector ask me if I like my job. Well of course I like my job, if I didn’t like it; I would choose something else to do. I choose to be a grant writer because I want to make a difference in my community. Grant writing and being a grant professional makes a different type of impact than say someone who is working directly with clients in a programmatic way and oftentimes, it is hard for the other half to see how I am making a difference. Being involved with GPA though, has taught me that no matter how small or large, grant professionals make a huge impact. We are the wheels making the vehicle run and are essentially vital to the success and impact that our organizations make for our communities.
My GPA membership is invaluable and I would not trade it for anything else. This membership scholarship has allowed me to continue to lead my chapter into great and innovative directions. My career has grown because of this opportunity, meeting other professionals in the field and even becoming involved in contract grant writing work. It has allowed me to reach my professional goals, attend training that furthered the fundraising mission of the organization I am employed with and to push myself as a grant writer and fundraising professional. I am so completely grateful for this opportunity and for being selected to receive a scholarship from the Grant Professionals Foundation.