2009 Order of the NACS Eagle Award Recipient - Kathleen K. Grace, CCR

Thank you so much! And thank you, board members, for this fabulous honor!
 
I also want to recognize the excellent Swarthmore College Bookstore Staff who make it possible for me to say, “yes” when volunteer opportunities come along.
 
When Melanie called to tell me that I would be receiving this award, I was literally speechless. I was silent for so long I think she thought our call had been disconnected. Those of you who know me know that I am not usually at a loss for words so it gives you an indication of how truly overwhelmed I was. Since then I’ve been able to say that it has been proven that I can be rendered speechless…but it took an entire industry to do it!
 
I stumbled upon our industry, as so many of us do; just over 25 years ago, when a friend called to tell me that our undergraduate alma mater was looking for a bookstore manager. I was 23 and working at a regional department store at the time. I said, “I don’t know anything about buying books or managing a college bookstore.” To which he said, “How hard could it be?” So with that, I discovered this wonderful industry and its amazing people.
 
Of course, I also discovered very quickly just how hard it could be. There were many bumps in the road. I learned some things through pure trial and error. But mostly, I learned from you—from my colleagues. And when I had amassed enough industry knowledge that I thought I had something to share, I started trying to pay back my debt through industry volunteer work.
 
But no matter how hard I try, it always seems that I get back more than I give. Sometimes its industry specific like an idea for a new service opportunity, a new product line, a new promotional idea. Other times it’s picking up skills like techniques for running a better meeting or gaining experience with public speaking. Always it involves increasing my invaluable network of peers on whom I call when I have questions or concerns. I have found that industry volunteer work is the very best form of professional development there is. I would encourage all of you to seek out industry volunteer opportunities at the state, regional, or national level. It is truly a “win-win” experience.
 
I am so very honored to be taking this award home. But while it’s given to an individual, at least in my case, it has been earned by many. My family; Dad, Carol, Nancy, Dawn, would you please stand and remain standing? And would the following people please join my family in standing? Individuals who have worked with me on task forces, committees, or boards. Those who have attended educational sessions with me either as my classmate or student. My compatriots on the Small Stores, Textbook, and Marketing discussion lists. My fellow Middle Atlantic College Stores members. And last, but certainly not least, will the NACS staff members in the room with whom I’ve worked please stand? Those of you who are standing have all contributed to my being here today. And, while I’m the one taking it home, I share this award, and my heartfelt thanks, with all of you.
 
Thank you!
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