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 Real Life Story

What I Learned in My Time as a Family Scholar

By Carmen Boucher
2011-2012 Family Scholar

As a family scholar I had various experiences month to month. Each had its own theme and included new activities and new challenge to review what we had learned. Learning about myself as a leader and how that is perceived by others. This helped me understand how to communicate with different people that have the varied personalities and backgrounds.

Being a family scholar gave me the opportunity to learn more in-depth about the history of Title V, the development of the programs and the process for the grant application. The skills I learned, helped me to be more active in the process this past year, from public comments; surveys; program reviews and application documentation and feeling confidence to attend a Title V grant review in Boston. Helping families understand their Title V programs and how they can give feedback about their services, as well as participate on committees, made me feel like I was giving them an opportunity to participate in the process. I also learned the importance of letting our political leaders know how the programs are helping their constituents in our state. And most of all, I learned about the advocacy needs of the state and the continuous need for political support.

Another great experience was the scheduling of the Hill visit. As we reviewed our state services and the voting record of our political representative in Washington. I had the opportunity to bring a team of people from our state to the Hill visit in Washington DC. Everyone had a job to do and stayed on track. We all left a personalized two minutes message of our story (elevator speech). The preparation and help from my scholar mentor and policy manager and monthly call was very helpful to make the visit run smoothly and was a huge success. I feel that the experience on researching and scheduling a Hill Visit is a life skill I will never forget, one that I will use and teach others.

Another skill that I had to utilize was writing letters of advocacy on health insurance converge. As I continue to advocate for others, there comes a time when I have to come back to what brought me to where I am today, the personal experience. In these hard economic times, employers have to make changes and sometimes those changes are a big hit on families that utilized their health insurance coverage more than others. Being underinsured or having insurance with restrictions is stressful for families, it also can delay sometimes critical services to the patient. I have had the experience to continue to advocate for health care services by speaking and writing to the employers about the personal impact their changes in insurance made in my family life and the implication of those changes. As we continue to navigate the medical system, I feel honored by the opportunity Deborah Garneau and Ana Novais gave by nominating me for the program and AMCHP for selecting me for this experience. I feel that I now have the skills and abilities to continue on with the journey.