SpringBoard is pleased to present a series by associates writing about their path to certification. These posts spotlight the many ways to reach that goal and provide encouragement and ideas for anyone considering their own roadmap to becoming a Certified Genealogist®.

Jan M. Joyce, CG®, CGL℠, of Los Altos, California is Associate 1102 and was certified in October 2018. Her story follows in her own words.

“You’re thinking of and preparing for certification and you have questions. You want to know how and why others were successful, right? So, of course, ProGen is critical. And definitely, the Boston University (BU) Certificate in Genealogical Research. You’ve heard about both of those. But besides those two educational opportunities, what else helped me prepare for certification?

The Education
My journey started with something you might not think of. It was an application for First Families of Pennsylvania (FFP). Admittedly, I started off a little overconfident…perhaps buoyed by my successes in the BU course and mid-way through ProGen. It couldn’t be that difficult, could it? After all, it’s just completing generational information and linkages. It was all wrapped up (at least in my head). The application was completed with eight generations of linkages from Ohio to Pennsylvania. Imagine my surprise when FFP responded saying that several of the generations were not proved! I knew that they were…but upon inspection, of course, FFP was correct. Thankfully, they allow resubmission and I dug in to rework not only my research but my proof arguments. Spending probably a couple of hundred hours overall on this project significantly helped me prepare for certification.

The People
Several people have inspired me along the way. First, in the BU course, Melinde Lutz Byrne was a fabulous teacher. Despite the difficulty of an online environment she captured the right balance of encouragement, constructive feedback, empathy, and enthusiasm that we hope for in a learning environment. Second, there is a local CG® I consider my mentor (don’t tell her–she doesn’t know!) Sharon Hoyt. I met with Sharon during my time “on the clock” and was so inspired by her. Besides her humor she is wicked smart and an amazing teacher. I’ve heard her speak several times and am enthralled with her storytelling ability which is always backed by incredibly thorough research. Third, I’m terrible at “networking” and have to force myself to do so. So I found two genealogy BFFs, Ann Raymont and Shannon Green. After “identifying” them in the BU course, I solicited them to stay in touch. We first met in person after BU at a conference and stayed on similar educational and certification tracks. At one point during our now six-year friendship, Ann suggested we report in monthly to each other. So…we do! Each month we write what we’ve accomplished and what our next month’s goals are. Sometimes we call each other to bounce ideas around and be challenged. I don’t know how far along I would have come without us sticking through it together.

The Journey
I love this journey. I love learning and still have so much to do! German genealogy research is my plan this summer at an institute…progressing my Norwegian line is a priority…I still have so much to learn about DNA…and so much more! Of course, I love practicing what I already know. Researching my own family is incredibly rewarding and I use it to fuel what I love professionally – to teach and write (ok, mostly teach because writing is a love/hate thing, right?). I’ve written several articles and taught at local genealogy societies as well as APG’s Professional Management Conference and the Southern California Genealogical Society’s Jamboree. I’ve recorded a couple of webinars and am now mentoring ProGen Study Group 45. In the future, I plan to teach at an institute for which I’ve already begun crafting material.

The Advice
Advice for you? Do it your way! Enjoy it. Revel in it. It is a journey and not a destination. But oh baby, when you find out you earned certification, it feels amazing!”

Sincere thanks to Jan M. Joyce, DBA, CG®, CGL℠ for sharing her story.

The words Certified Genealogist and letters CG are registered certification marks, and the designations CGL and Certified Genealogical Lecturer are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists®, used under license by board certificants after periodic evaluation.