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"The first thing that comes to mind when I was asked to write about my experiences at CMS in Madison was all the fond memories of events, classmates and the CMS staff - The Total Experience! Our class of 2017 was named the SUPERSTARS for a reason and now they are my CMS family.
I have always set professional goals in three year increments and in 2015 with the help of my new boss, Alissa Sykes, a very supportive Business Services Team and my family, I took the plunge into a three year commitment to CMS. Life goes on as we get busy due to one project or another, there is never the RIGHT TIME… The RIGHT TIME is when you enroll and make it happen. The thought of being away from home for two weeks, plus the additional work that would be waiting for me when I returned, was not at all appealing but it was the unknown that intrigued me.
Since I am the first one from my CU to attend CMS, I had zero contacts and no stories, good or bad. I headed to Madison with a clean slate. The first memory of walking into Chadbourne Hall (Dorm) was the help of the Welcoming Committee. Right from the start Paul Bauer (class of 2016) made me feel comfortable. Dorm life was dorm life but it was fun as it gave me an opportunity to meet new friends and talk to them about their world.
The first couple days were rough, classes were long, and the schedule was daunting, with very limited personal time to catch up with family, or return a quick email from work. Little did I realize how much those events, parties, and long days together with my classmates were necessary to enhance my experience and would eventually make it very tough to say goodbye to everyone! We are a family and each one of us made the time to help each other and encourage the ones that were down or struggling. No one was left behind!
As the days passed, the many people I met quickly turned into friends, and the classes began to bring the big picture about the Credit Union movement into focus. While the classes were long, and I consumed more food and beverages than should be humanly possible, they were invaluable. As an AVP of Business Services, my dealings with the retail side of CU operations is limited. What I discovered that the classes cover such a wide range of topics no matter your job title.
The combination of classes, projects, demonstrations, and guest speakers added tremendous depth to my understanding of Credit Union financials, the economy, and my role in achieving our goals as a company. By the time my third year of classes rolled around, I couldn't wait to get back to Madison and to the people I had grown to love. It was great to see how so many people at different places in their career, from all over the country, could be brought together by a passion for the Credit Union movement.
My third year at CMS, every day seemed to pass more quickly than the last. As I reflect on the time I spent there with the people who had grown to be a part of my life, I feel a bit sad that I won't be returning again next year. Sad that I can't walk to class every day in flip flops, and dress up for fundraisers in the evening in goofy looking outfits. Sad that I won't have that weekend in between with the friends that had begun to feel more like family.
CMS is not an experience to miss, and I am so thankful for the opportunity. I would fully recommend it to anyone who might be considering attending. The CMS experience has made me a better employee and an even better person. The friendships I made will continue for the rest of my life, and we will continue to tap each other for support within our various positions at credit unions across the country. I encourage you to make some memories of your own with your class!"
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