2017 Josephine Martin National Policy Fellow Nancy Droszcz is the Nutrition Services Manager at Bolingbrook High School, in the Valley View 365U Community Unit School District.
When Nancy Droszcz found out she had been selected as the 2017 Josephine Martin Policy Fellow and would be attending LAC 2017 in Washington, D.C., she was so surprised she asked whether she was the only applicant. The application process had felt a bit intimidating, and she wasn’t convinced she had a shot.
“It is very daunting—you have to write three essays,” said Droszcz, recalling her application experience. “But the thing is—what do you have to lose? You hear about scholarships going unclaimed, so I applied.”
Though she had attended other SNA conferences in the past, Droszcz was especially interested in attending LAC after hearing co-workers describe their experiences.
“My assistant director Tracie Suter and my boss Meghan Gibbons said this is their favorite of all of the conferences. I’m really excited about attending, not just because of the phenomenal things I’ve heard about it, but to have the opportunity to influence and engage my representative.”
With a student population of 3400 (ADP lunch 1700-1900, ADP breakfast 700) writing three essays to complete an arduous application process takes some motivation. A desire to become more involved in the public policy and advocacy side of school nutrition provided Droszcz with that motivation.
“I want to progress through the legislative track, maybe be on that committee and chair or co-chair,” she said. “I’m hoping this will push me in that direction. I think it’s important that our children are fed, and fed well, and that we continue to do that for many years.
Here at the high school if we were to go to a block grant school meal program, it could really hinder our program. My worry is what would happen if our student population increased over the year – would we be able to accommodate all the (F/R) students?”
As her trip to Washington, D.C. approaches, Droszcz looks forward to a little family time—her sister lives in the area, and was a former Hill staffer—to balance out what is sure to be a busy conference. Grateful for the opportunity, and the financial support, Droszcz says if you’re thinking about applying for the Martin Fellow—or any SNA scholarship—to jump right in and do it.
“I have also applied for a scholarship to take my SNS exam. I think the important thing is—apply. You hear about scholarships and opportunities that go unclaimed, so why not apply? You just never know. To be awarded a $3,000 scholarship, and this conference opportunity—it’s fantastic. I really encourage everyone to go out and apply. If there is money on the table it will stay there until you reach for it!”
Postscript: Nancy sent us an update after LAC 2017 to share her experience with us; Nancy wrote:
“LAC was fantastic! I met some very AMAZING people. Fellow Josephine Martin Award, Sandi Walters treated me to the School Nutrition Hero’s dinner. That was an event not to miss. The heroes and their extraordinary stories are so humbling. Makes me want to go out and do some fantastic things. The sessions were very informative as well as the detailed presentation of the 2017 Position Paper. Being an advocate and sharing my concerns regarding School Nutrition and making requests of our Congressman to Stop the Block and request 6 cents for breakfast commodities was truly an amazing experience. I was shocked when I was recognized during a general session. I had no idea I was going to be called on stage. This was an experience I will never forget. I hope to continue on the legislative track with our ILSNA board. It was so rewarding.”