January 23, 2023

‘Purdue Pursuits’: MaPSAC professional development grants


As the assistant director of advising professional development in the Purdue University Undergraduate Academic Advising office and the 2022-23 chair of the Purdue Academic Advising Association, Tiffany Stergar is always searching for ways for herself – and others — to grow as a professional.  

“We should all try to be lifelong learners; I am a strong advocate of that,” Stergar says. “We are never done learning, and we are never done growing professionally. We should want to be learning more because we’re in higher ed; that’s the nature of what we do.”

Stergar has engaged in countless professional development activities like committees, workshops and programs during her seven years as a Purdue employee. But last spring, she discovered a new way to fund her passion for learning: through professional development grants offered by the Management and Professional Staff Advisory Committee (MaPSAC).

Each spring and fall semester, MaPSAC awards grants of up to $750 to management and professional staff interested in development activities like professional education or certification; lectures, conferences and seminars; and academic courses. Since the inception of the MaPSAC grant program in 2002, nearly $460,000 has been awarded to more than 800 Purdue employees.

About 'Purdue Pursuits'

A variety of programs, workshops, fellowships and trainings are offered to Purdue faculty and staff each semester. How can Purdue employees use these opportunities as small steps in reaching their personal and professional goals? Purdue Today's "Purdue Pursuits" series will share employees’ stories of growth and development during their experiences as active participants of their campus communities.

Suggestions for the "Purdue Pursuits" series may be emailed to purduetoday@purdue.edu.

With her sights set on attending last fall’s National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) Annual Conference, Stergar prepared to apply for the MaPSAC grant by reaching out to previous winners and attending proposal writing workshops. After completing all the application requirements, she was awarded $675 to use toward her trip to the conference in Portland, Oregon.

“This is a great way to help with expenses,” Stergar says. “Whether that’s taking expenses off your department or yourself — that is a huge benefit of the MaPSAC grant. It’s a great return on investment if you just fill out the few things you have to do to get the money. It doesn’t take a lot of time, and it’s very rewarding.”

Even more rewarding are the doors that professional development opportunities can open. Stergar’s experience this past fall at NACADA’s annual conference helped her land a spot on the organization’s professional development steering committee and gave her the confidence to begin writing a presentation proposal for the 2023 conference.

Her professional development activities even helped propel her into her current position at Purdue, which she recently stepped into after supporting students for five years as an academic advisor in the College of Health and Human Sciences. 

She says using the MaPSAC grant to pursue professional development opportunities like this one can help individuals facilitate relationships with industry peers and discover new ways to thrive in their roles. 

“It’s an opportunity to meet other people who are just like you from all over the country,” Stergar says. “You have similar successes and challenges, and you can brainstorm and figure out how to work around those challenges or come up with new ideas. It’s just invigorating and inspiring to be around your peers who feel your pains and your successes.”

Management and professional staff are eligible to receive a professional development grant from MaPSAC once every three years. Stergar says she plans to apply again in the future, but she’s envisioning herself obtaining yet another goal — attending an international NACADA conference.

In the meantime, she offers some advice for those who are unfamiliar with the grant program or unsure about applying.

“Just do it,” Stergar says. “Get out of your comfort zone; push yourself, and just do it. It’s such a rewarding opportunity. If you’re nervous about it, talk to someone who’s done it before. You can look at who’s won it in the past, and you can find them in the directory and reach out to them. I think using your resources and getting up the courage to do it is all you really need.”

How you can apply

Applications for spring grants will be considered for proposed activities occurring Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, and the maximum award amount is $750. Applications must be submitted online by 11:59 p.m. March 1.

MaPSAC has posted a grants webpage with additional information and a link to the online application. Questions may be directed to the Professional Development subcommittee at mapsac-pd@purdue.edu.

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