This week my friend and former DataStax teammate Jamie Gillenwater joined the ranks of the Society for Technical Communication (STC) Associate Fellows. She was in good company with the 2021 class of Associate Fellows. Associate Fellow is one of three honorary ranks in STC. It is the second highest rank that STC can confer upon a member. This honor recognizes members for their outstanding achievements in and contributions to the arts and science of technical communication, and for sustained and significant service to STC. Associate Fellows retain this honorary rank for life.
Path to Associate Fellow: Barrie Byron, 2010
My path to Society for Technical Communication (STC) Associate Fellow began in 1996 when my manager at Motorola dashed through our Boynton Beach office, shouting “Who has three copies of anything?!” The STC Suncoast Chapter’s Florida Technical Communication Competition (FTCC) submission deadline was my first awareness of STC.
In the 1990s, we used FrameMaker 5 to create our product documentation on quite-large Macintosh desktop computers. As writers, we met the printer in the lobby and reviewed the printed documents using the printer’s blueline proofs. The hard-copy stapled 2.5” x 4.5” User’s Guide and Quick Reference Guide documents were shipped with the product in the box. It was my lucky day when I was able to announce, “Yes. I have three copies!” of my latest Quick Reference Guide. The document was submitted to the 1996 FTCC and earned an award of Excellence.
Before I had three copies of anything, I wasn’t aware of STC. Earning recognition as an award-winning writer was a life-changing experience for my professional career and a catalyst for my volunteer role in several STC communities. The Florida Technical Communication Competition (FTCC) was a Suncoast Chapter-led function for all of the Florida STC chapters. I became aware of STC international and of our local Palm Beaches STC chapter.
Later that year, I joined STC. I started attending meetings, submitting content for newsletters, and saying “yes” when I was asked to contribute and participate. I was soon elevated (ahem, recruited) to volunteer chapter leadership positions. In 2000, I was serving as Chapter Vice President when I attended my first STC International Conference in Orlando, Florida. I was humbled then, as I am now. So many individuals, happily sharing their time and their talent… for me! I was more inspired to volunteer and contribute.
I was serving as the STC Palm Beaches chapter president in 2001 when our scheduled speaker for the September program meeting was unable to fly to South Florida, due to the September 11 attacks on our nation. Again, my life changed, as did so many of our lives. With no program speaker, we used that fateful meeting to review the criteria and checklists to earn a community achievement award. We planned for success and earned the chapter’s first award of Merit. I was hooked again on the STC recognition and mission.
When I moved from south Florida to central New Jersey in 2003, my first community professional home was the STC Philadelphia Metro Chapter. I was so impressed with the outstanding efforts and success with the annual conference, that I nominated the chapter for the Pacesetter Award. Again, recognition from STC clenched my resolve to stay involved and keep participating as an active member and volunteer leader. I volunteered to present locally, regionally, and internationally. I kept saying “yes” when I was invited to participate and contribute as an active STC member and leader.
In 2007, I took my first turn at giving recognition to an active and venerated volunteer leader. I joyously nominated former Floridian and current STC Philadelphia Metro Chapter President Lori Corbett for Associate Fellow. WOW, was I surprised to learn of the extensive documentation, biography, professional experience, and recording requirements for this honorary rank. I started tracking my own volunteer leader experience. I also began seeking more opportunities to build my own professional credentials.
I have since nominated five other members for Associate Fellow, and have served as references for numerous other nominees. I served as chapter competition manager for more than five years and as international competition manager and judge for more years than I can remember. Chapter members and leaders, STC Fellows and STC Associate Fellows, active community leaders, and international board leaders are multi-faceted talented professionals that I admire and respect. It is my extreme privilege to achieve professional recognition among the company of my peers.
It’s all about relationships… the more members I work with, the happier I am. The more I contribute, the more benefits I reap.
I was honored, humbled, and ecstatic when I was nominated for Associate Fellow in 2009. My citation reads: For advocating and supporting the field of technical communication, technical communicators, and the Society through a variety of media and dedicated hard work.
I remain a stalwart supporter and active member of STC and encourage all members to step up and say “yes” more often.