Over the last 20 years I gradually lost all self-confidence and simultaneously started to experience growing anxiety and panic attacks (general anxiety disorder). It was only a few years ago that I sought help to figure out how to adjust and cope with this in my life. Like so many dealing with any type of illness, but especially a silent and non-visible disease, I have not shared my struggles. I simply stopped going to functions, socializing, and withdrew from volunteer activities etc. In general outside of my work hours, and socializing with a few very close friends and family, I dropped off the face of the earth. When I absolutely have to go to an event (even a family wedding, shower etc.), I’m miserable for days before, during the event, and then beat myself up afterwards for how my miserable-self behaved.
Over the last year I have really been trying to push myself to get back out there, to get out of my comfort zone and grow. It has not been easy and I don’t know if it will ever be again, but I am trying. Last January I received an email from my then branch (Grand River) about The Foundation of IAAP scholarships for IAAP Summit 2015. I was having a good day and decided I had nothing to lose by applying. I filled out the form, hit the send button and immediately had a panic attack! What if I get it, what will I do, how will I manage, why did I send it…arggh!!!! Then I decided what will be, will be and I put it out of my mind. When I received the phone call in April that I was one of the recipients, the panic came right back. But, something in me told me I had to accept it and I did. I do admit it was partly because I have this need to please people (even at my own expense) and felt I couldn’t let down the people who had selected me. Between then and the conference I worked to learn coping strategies for various situations. I called the hotel and asked for a room that would not increase my claustrophobia. I spoke with Amy at IAAP headquarters, told her my worries and her first response was to ask what they could do to help make my experience a positive one. My rock (my incredible husband) took vacation time to accompany me so he would be there as my safety net if I needed it— and I did!
The opportunity afforded me to attend Summit 2015 by The Foundation of IAAP pushed me outside my comfort zone and I succeeded! Yes, it was very hard to go to the first few sessions. Yes, there were some hiccups—lots of anxiety, some panic attacks, but I coped! Each day I found new motivators and new mantra’s to keep me moving and growing (“Why Be Normal…Aim Higher” is one of my favorites—thank you Bonnie St. John!). I met great people from all over the US and Canada, including quite a number that, like me, are Admins in Higher Education. When I returned home my newfound enthusiasm carried on both in my career and my personal life. I came away with some of my confidence restored and realized I had added a number of coping strategies to my toolbox. Just going to the sessions was a huge step for me and the learnings I was able to take away have had a very positive impact at work. Even my family noticed a change. I am really trying to move out of my comfort zone and am coping with life’s trials and tribulations a little better. Of course, attending IAAP Summit 2015 did not “cure” me, but it has helped me realize that I can still grow, learn and overcome obstacles. I still struggle daily and especially when I have to go to events or meetings, but I am now more apt to go and am more willing to pull from that toolbox to be an active, and happier, participant when I do go. I have volunteered to participate on an IAAP committee and am even interested in volunteering at IAAP Summit 2016 in Florida.
What made the difference? I don’t think it was any one thing. It was the whole package—being surrounded by people who want to help you succeed and grow; to share knowledge and best practices; people who know how to motivate; people who embrace change; people who don’t judge you.
Thank you to The Foundation of IAAP for naming me a 2015 IAAP Summit scholarship recipient. I am very grateful that through your generosity I was able to gain back a little of my confidence and enthusiasm for my career. I can’t wait to attend IAAP Summit 2016. I would recommend this conference to anyone in our profession—no matter what stage of their career they are in!
This experience has been life-changing and I will be forever grateful to The Foundation for making this possible. I stand loyal to IAAP and I am excited to see what the future will bring.
Cindy Lokovich, CAP-OM, on attending IAAP's 2014 annual conference with a Foundation scholarship
Thank you so much for offering me the scholarship to EFAM, the experience was better than I could have ever dreamed of. The networking alone would have made it useful but the ability to learn and grow was really powerful. I considered myself “just an office girl” but meeting and listening to all of the amazing men and women who have turned what I considered a “job” into a career was really empowering, and made me want to do and be better, to learn more, and make this my career. I love what I do, I am so thankful and glad that there are hundreds and thousands of amazing individuals who feel the same way, and that this doesn’t have to be just a job!
Jessica Trapani, on attending IAAP's 2014 annual conference with a Foundation scholarship
I really enjoyed my time at the IAAP Summit, and took many learning points away. It was wonderful to come together with other administrative professionals to learn, network, and pick up new skills.
Allyssa Anton, on attending IAAP Summit 2015 for the first time with a Foundation scholarship
Thank you to the Foundation of IAAP for your support! I left Des Moines anticipating that I would learn a lot and network but I could not anticipate the personal transformation that happened.
Cherié Moen, CAP, on attending IAAP's 2014 annual conference with a Foundation scholarship
Being able to attend EFAM was an awesome experience. It was both an honor and privilege to be one of the scholarship recipients and I would like to thank The Foundation for allowing me to experience this wonderful opportunity. The event was fantastic, there were so many educational sessions with top-notch speakers, and it was great to network with so many professionals from all over the world who had the same goals – education, networking, and seeing the bigger picture of IAAP. The event surpassed my expectations and really inspired me. This is definitely the best learning experience available for Administrative Professionals. I hope that the scholarship opportunity will continue so that more people are able to experience EFAM in the future. Thank you again for allowing me to have this wonderful experience!
Karen Bernards, CAP, on attending IAAP's 2014 annual conference with a Foundation scholarship