I had been told that if you passed the test and earned your certification the letters CPPO would appear next to your name on the long awaited envelope. The weeks it took to receive the mailing were torturous enough, but now as I stood with the envelope in hand I began to cry. I was tired. Tired from the weight of the day, the struggles of the past year, personal challenges that seemed to keep arising in my life, and now an envelope. An envelope which did not contain the much anticipated letters CPPO next to my name. As I held the unopened letter, I thought about the events that led me to this moment and tears of defeat trickled down my cheeks.
I thought about how I had been in purchasing for twenty-three years at this point. That alone was a great accomplishment for me. Some may not believe it, but I once was so shy that the only way I would venture out into the world was by the belt loop of my husband’s jeans. I have come into my own since those days, but still struggle to achieve things others come by more easily. In the last five years I had become aware of NIGP and all it has to offer.
I thought of how much I had accomplished, even if I hadn’t earned the title CPPO. I have become a member of both NIGP and our State Chapter. I have been able to attend several NIGP forums, numerous classes, expos, business meetings, conventions. I thought about how I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone and joined a committee. Never in a million years would I have thought I would be a chair on such a committee…and I am. Then I thought about obtaining my CPPB certification.
None of this was easy for me. I did not expect to pass the CPPB so why did I now expect to pass the CPPO? My learning disability has been a hardship all of my life. It takes me a very long time to read and is even more difficult for me to comprehend what it is I have read. When faced with material as daunting as the Book of Knowledge, I don’t know why I attempted such a feat in the first place. But then I began to think about my support system.
I thought of all the study groups I had attended, all of the classes NIGP offered; of which I had taken advantage. I thought of all the NIGP members who lent me books and notes, of the countless emails of encouragement, I thought of my supervisor and how he initially encouraged me to take the test. And then I thought of my dad.
My dad is now eighty but when I was studying for the CPPB, he was seventy-eight. Knowing how I struggle and how overwhelmed I was, he did what he has always done. He scooped his little girl up and told me it would be okay. My dad took the Book of Knowledge and recorded as he read each word for me. He made tapes which I listened to on my hour commute to and from work. He not only made these tapes, but he put notes in the margin as well as on the tapes. My dad took words and phrases that may be confusing to me and defined them in a way I would understand. He read to his little girl and I followed along as he read. My dad did this not once, but twice. First for the CPPB and now for the CPPO. As I thought about my dad and how much he believed in me, the envelope in my hand suddenly grew heavier and the tears came faster.
These weren’t selfish tears or “woe is me” tears, but tears of embarrassment. Tears for all the people I felt I had let down. Tears for my supervisor and agency who had been so supportive. Tears for my new friends at NIGP who had given so much of themselves to help me succeed. Tears for my family who had to endure the endless studying. But most of all, tears for my dad whose voice and guidance had been instrumental in earning my CPPB. I felt my failure would mean failure for him as well.
My son, who was sitting in the room with me, encouraged me to open the envelope. “At least open it mom and see how close you came,” he said. So I did. Through the blur of tears I read, “Congratulations.” I was sure I wasn’t seeing it clearly so I handed it to my son. “What does it say?” I asked. He said, “You passed mom!” I started crying even more but this time my tears were of pure joy. I stood still and thanked God for such a wonderful NIGP organization, AZNIGP support group, my supportive supervisor, but most of all for my awesome dad! Some might say the most awesomeness dad in the world.
Crystal Wester, CPPO, CPPB
Office of the Medical Examiner
Maricopa County Forensic Science Center, Phoenix, Arizona