With my AmFamily, I was never alone
American Family Insurance employee Anne Norman reflects on the inspiring role her colleagues played the past two years as she pursued her dream of an MBA.
In January 2015, American Family launched its new "Insure Carefully, Dream Fearlessly" campaign.
Every word, photo and digital experience was tested and scrutinized, so when I declared one of my actual dreams – to earn an MBA – via dreamfearlessly.com, I was doing it as part of my work.
I wasn't really planning to pursue that dream.
The next day, information about the University of Wisconsin-Madison MBA program appeared on my desk, complete with our new hashtag: #DreamFearlessly.
Will Wait, the colleague who'd provided the folder and a veteran of this MBA program, encouraged me. His confidence in my ability compelled me to follow through.
I only committed to checking things out. I thought it would be a short investigation when I emailed the director of admissions just one week before the application deadline. I thought: Please let it be full! It was not.
I asked a few people for letters of recommendation. Please let them be too busy! I received four letters in 72 hours.
I submitted my application and essay. Please tell me I don't qualify! I was invited to interview the next week.
I nervously met with the director of admissions. Please don't admit me! When the acceptance letter arrived, it was no longer a someday dream; it was about to impact the most important people in my life.
With the green light from my amazing husband and supportive boss, I started my grad school journey.
As I approached the first day of class, my AmFam team sent me out with a hearty, "Good luck! You've got this!" And it suddenly felt like I had a whole group of dream champions in my corner.
The first year was tough. Study, work, eat, sleep, repeat. Studying started at 5 a.m. most mornings, and classes took place every other Friday (while my team held down the work front) and Saturday (while my husband held down the home front).
As I plunged into my second year, dream champions kept showing up.
Maybe it was Amanda Tillman teasing me ("Anne ... are you getting your MBA?") because I talked about it so often. Maybe it was Bill Shepard telling me he was inspired by how I managed to weave school, work and family together. Maybe it was fellow classmate Eric Orthey commiserating with me over a particularly painful class. Maybe it was Telisa Yancy asking about the program every time we met, or Andy Stilp genuinely wanting to hear what topics I was learning or Dan Kelly asking about my accounting and finance classes.
As I received congratulations from colleagues after graduating this May, it clicked. This is what American Family does. Championing dreams is in our DNA. We care. We want to see each other persevere and achieve our dreams.
I declared this someday dream as part of my job. I achieved it because I had the right support from my friends and colleagues. I put in the work, and my name is on the degree. But I was never alone on this journey.
Today might be the day to declare your someday dream. You could declare it to yourself or share it online with the #dreamfearlessly hashtag.
Because any dream is possible with the right support. And we have such generous, caring support right here at American Family.