Priya: What did you learn at the Summit this year?
Jill: Where do I begin? The Conference offered a overflowing bucket of knowledge and expertise!! While I have lobbied multiple times in the past at the local and national levels, this was my first Shot@Life Summit and I simply had no idea what to expect. I was so surprised and delighted that the attendees, by majority, were not from medical backgrounds. It was so wonderful to see so many people share in this cause as passionately as I do but not be in the medical field. This clearly, diverse and devoted group of people really renewed my faith in humanity. I learned so much about other professions, cultures, and worldly experiences and of course the Shot@Life campaign and goals. While we were all so uniquely different individuals, we all shared the same passion regarding children and the sanctity of life. I was truly moved by the individuals I shared time with in Summit lectures and with visits to the Capitol. I was so honored and proud to stand with these individuals, that I had just met, while visiting with legislators.
The quality and knowledge of the presenters was outstanding. They really made me feel like I was part of a really great thing that was going to leave a huge foot print on the world! I came home stopping anyone that would give their attention to tell them what an amazing experience I just had explaining that I felt I was amongst advocates the caliber of Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa. I was humbled. I was so excited about conference when I got back and still am amazed and honored to part of this movement!
I also want to take a moment to recognize the outstanding staff that I had the privilege to engage with. Specifically, Rebecca Maxie [Shot@Life staff] and Felisa Hilbert, my Champion Leader, had so much enthusiasm and energy it made all the difference in my experience. It was obvious they were very passionate and vested in this campaign!
Priya: What was the most surprising thing to you?
Jill: As mentioned previously, the diversity of the attendees and presenters was so enlightening. Everyone had such unique stories, I would hang on every word as they spoke. So thankful to have been offered the opportunity to participate. I was also impressed by the comprehensive information we were provided to meet with legislators. The information gave us everything we needed to insure a successful visit with our legislators. I particularly loved the fact that this is a bipartisan issue that is easy to support and effects so many! The Capitol visit was beautifully orchestrated and from the participant side, went on without a hitch! I was also taken back by how much appreciation the Shot@Life staff and presenters had for the attendees. I felt like I was in debt to Shot@Life for the scholarship I was awarded (and still do frankly) but here they were thanking me!! I felt like some celebrity. Who knew that what felt like such a small commitment of time from my life would be seen as such a huge contribution. This, again, supported the fact that I was part of something really big and powerful!
Priya: What were your biggest takeaways?
Jill: The biggest takeaways for me was the feeling of comfort and ease for what I was embarking on. Shot@Life has made this process of advocating so easy for the novice to expert that it is almost ethically and morally wrong to NOT support the cause. It was evident that a champion could be as involved to whatever their life would allow….just BE involved. So if all you could do was write a letter, then down load it from the website and push send. Maybe you like to talk, so give a lecture or informative talk. Maybe you are all over social media…then just tweet. The message was clear, every single small effort was valuable and moved us closer to our goal of eradicating vaccine preventable disease. Further, the education information is outstanding and the website makes it impossible to not do a great job advocating for world vaccines!! I am so excited to have been able to become a champion before Advocate2Vaccinate so I can use my newly attended skills and knowledge immediately.
I would like to offer a special thanks to Shot@Life and the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners (NAPNAP) for the scholarship award to attend the Summit. I am honored to be part of such a wonderful movement.