The sun burst through the last days of summer in 2011. I’d spent over a month visiting my aging father in Stratford, Ontario and missed my own family. Returning to my beloved Metro Vancouver community, I began the arduous task of opening mail without incurring paper cuts. Yes, there were many, many envelopes to recycle.
One envelope caught my attention. I pulled it out of the 6” pile and recognized the white-and-red logo. CPRS Toronto. Yes, likely a post-conference bulletin, perhaps a thank-you for some of the volunteer work. I opened it and was floored by the introduction. “You are invited to apply for the CPRS College of Fellows…”
My mind raced with questions like wild horses galloping into the mountains. Me? Eligible for my fellowship with the College of Fellows? Me? Qualified enough to be invited to apply for my FCPRS? Who was I to be invited to participate in such a prestigious honour?
It was perplexing. Exciting. Nerve-wracking.
Fueled by curiosity, I pulled out the laptop. Research has been a pivotal part of my existence since obtaining my APR in 2004. Research would answer some of those questions, now thundering away in a mind excited at navigating the seas of Fellowship.
A quick Google search gave me the link www.cprs.ca/aboutus/fellows.aspx. To my surprise, I discovered that the CPRS College of Fellows was quite new. Established in 1998, it recognizes CPRS members who are proven leaders in public relations and communications. Candidates need 20 years of diverse experience that highlights advancing public relations, demonstrates leadership and strengthens the work of CPRS or other organizations through outstanding communications.
A quick perusal of my curriculum vitae’s executive accomplishments sealed the deal. I would apply. Yes, it would be a lot of work. Yes, I’d have to relook at my initiatives with a strategic, objective eye. Thank goodness I had saved documents showcasing achievements, mentoring and community give-back. My CPRS committee work danced through my head: being voted onto the Board of Directors in Vancouver and then Victoria, chapter presidency, more committees. I hadn’t realized how much I’d achieved and would likely not have been aware of all of this without the spark of the invitation.
I began working on the application, taking inventory of all I’d accomplished in the 25-plus years that had zoomed by since I began my communications journey. Exhilaration took over hesitancy. Edits, revisions, deletions, insertions: this was writing a tome of who I was in the world of communications. The research turned into soul-searching of everything I had succeeded at, failed at and redid since graduating from BCIT’s Broadcast Communications program in 1989. The application heralded all I had envisioned in the mid-eighties when my career began to unfold.
Armed with a flotilla of hooks, lines and thinkers, I plunked on computer keys daily, seeing my journey of more than a quarter of a century swim before me like dolphins circling my island and inviting me out to play.
And play I did: full out, tireless, driven by an urge that was unquenchable. Until that day came when I sent the 22-page document and Visa payment. An arduous task? Perhaps, but one that reshaped my focus and interests.
That process was a blessing. It helped me to see much more than my achievements. It highlighted tenacity. Integrity. Strength of character. Vision. More vision. It strengthened my already high appreciation of CPRS; I felt so grateful to have worked with a thousand-plus clients, colleagues and cohorts. I felt enriched by my family, my husband, my friends. I remembered my earlier mentors, senior practitioners and associates who had shared their knowledge, passion and best practices. There were so many who played a part in shaping my life, influencing my choices and earning my respect for their own contributions.
The envelope arrived on the blustery day of December 1, 2011, sporting the familiar red-and-white logo. Reading the first few lines of “It gives me great pleasure…to be inducted as a Fellow of the Canadian Public Relations Society” brought a humbling stillness inside. When I read “…attained the pinnacle of membership in CPRS…,” I reached a pivotal moment. I chose to live the next half of my life mentoring students, sharing with newer practitioners and serving the local and national boards in more active, productive ways.
It opened a path I’ve never regretted. I had lived in the eclipses of learning. Now, I was perched on the stages of returning favours; of applying those lessons to clients, students, teachers, colleagues, practitioners, proponents, opponents; to any stakeholder of communications. What a fantastic, mesmerizing reward.
What about you, CPRS member? How have you enriched your community? What lives have you influenced to take up the communications charge? What achievements have you garnered, great and small? Will you bring your skills, strategies and strengths to the CPRS College of Fellows? Shall you take stock of how much you have accomplished, how far you’ve come and how much more you have left to do? Can you bring us your vision? Will you share yourself with us?
It doesn’t seem like much, that application. That $125 registration fee is but a wee stipend that gives one a deeper sense of satisfaction than one could ever imagine.
It doesn’t seem like much, spending two weeks writing about yourself, sensing the light in your eyes and the passion in your words, as your successes in communications for two decades or more splatter across the pages.
Challenge yourself! Visit cprs.ca/aboutus/fellows.aspx to review the submission requirements, including:
- 10 years of CPRS membership
- 20 years of experience
- Demonstrated leadership within CPRS
- Accredited member in good standing
- A role model to fellow practitioners
The deadline is September 16, 2016. And look for that letter in December. I’ll be happy to join you for a celebratory tea!