It Takes A Community…


This past weekend, I took and passed the exam for the SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP). It was a 1+ year journey since I first decided to pursue the certification, and you can only imagine the sense of relief and accomplishment that I felt when I pressed the “Submit my Exam” button and saw the word “PASS” appear in the upper left hand corner of the screen.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I have this all pretty well in perspective and realize that I am just one of many HR professionals to hold this certification. Adding that “S” to my existing SHRM-CP certification was certainly a goal that I had set out to achieve over a year ago, so I am not bragging about this accomplishment but rather, I am in awe as I look back at the journey I had taken to achieve this goal.  This is the reason for this post.

Like any accomplishment, I could not have done this alone.  There were many along the way that offered encouragement, support and yes, prayers for me to succeed.  To those individuals, I owe my gratitude and thanks.  While I can’t possibly thank everyone that helped me along the way, there were some key individuals that helped to make this possible:

Callie Zipple, SHRM-SCP – While unfortunately Callie left us way too soon last year, it was she that first convinced me to pursue the SHRM-SCP shortly after she passed her exam in January, 2019. We had an almost two-hour conversation about SHRM, our careers and life in general after she passed her exam a few weeks earlier. Callie had such energy and such a vision focusing not on herself, but on others and to move both SHRM and the HR profession forward. She was so proud of her certification told me that I should take the exam.  Callie reminded me about scholarships, the SHRM Learning System and offered to help in any way that she could.  Whether she realizes it or not, Callie was an inspiration for me throughout the entire process.  My only regret is that I am not able to thank Callie in-person, but I know that she was there with me when I was frustrated, tired, and ready to give up studying, and she continues to be with me and so many of us in our hearts and memories. I can’t thank Callie enough….for everything!

Callie Zipple after passing her SHRM-SCP exam

Blackhawk Human Resource Association – I have to thank Blackhawk HRA first for sponsoring a SHRM Certification Study Group led by Andrew Marcotte, SHRM-CP I wasn’t considering a study group, but instead in my usual independent way, was going to just “go it alone” and study the materials during my “free time.”  The small group, which met in a grocery store community room just down the street from my house, was comprised of HR professionals at all levels of their careers. They helped to start me on the right path as we all kept each other accountable during our weekly study group meetings.  As I write this post, I believe that everyone to date from our group has passed their SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP exams!  I also need to thank Blackhawk HRA for awarding me a scholarship which helped me financially with the exam fee.

BHRA Scholarships

SHRM Foundation – The SHRM Foundation offers about $500K in scholarship dollars each year to help advance the HR profession and help individuals with educational, research and certification expenses.  I was fortunate to apply for and be awarded a 2019 SHRM Foundation Certification Scholarship. Besides the award helping me with my expenses, it motivated me to continue to give back and support the SHRM Foundation in their efforts to “elevate and empower HR as a social force.” A special shout-out to my friend and SHRM Foundation Development Director Ashlee Smith who was, and always is there to help me with anything related to the Foundation.

Holly Weber – Those of you that know me well have heard me mention Holly.  She is my current supervisor and I have had the good fortune to work for her on a total of four separate instances over the past ten years.  Along with writing a thoughtful letter of recommendation that helped me to be awarded a SHRM Certification Scholarship, Holly has also been incredibly supportive of my SHRM involvement and professional development activities throughout the time that I have worked with her.  I am so lucky to not only have found in Holly an amazing supervisor and mentor, but more importantly a great and supportive friend as well.

Dr. Julie Palkowski – Finally, I have to thank my wife Julie for putting up with my weekly study group meetings, my trips to various coffee shops to study, and for my many bouts of anxiety as my exam date grew closer and closer. She knew that this was important for me to accomplish, so I thank Julie for both knowing when to support me and knowing when to just leave me alone! BTW, I don’t know that I would put up with me as much as she puts up with me…just sayin’!

And last, but certainly not least, I thank God for providing me with His strength and guidance that I prayed for and needed so much this past year. Besides this exam, the past year has been so challenging in so many ways with job changes, workplace challenges, friends becoming sick, friends passing away, and other various stresses that are a part of life.  I knew that with my faith and the support and prayers of others, I would get through it all and move on to the next challenges.  If I haven’t thanked you by name, please know that I am still both humbled and grateful for each of you.  You each played a part in my journey and look forward to many, many more journeys with you all.

With heartfelt thanks,

Jeffery C. Palkowski, SHRM-SCP




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