Education Grants, or How I Learned to Position Myself for Success

By Nicolas Gonzales, FPC


Since 1992, the American Payroll Association (APA) has offered its generous Education Grants to payroll professionals. Established to honor APA's founder and first President, the late Donald W. Sharper, the grants provide free payroll training and educational offerings through the Association. To some, they seem a shot in the dark; a far-off destination that takes ages to reach, if ever. But for those qualified to apply, they are a boon of resources and products that fast-track professional growth and development. And all it takes is a simple application and a passion for payroll.

Take, for example, Timothy Massenburg, CPP: proud recipient of the 2015 Global Cash Card Payroll Education Grant.

"I am truly blessed and honored," Massenburg remarked about receiving the grant. "It is a pleasure to represent such a prestigious organization as the American Payroll Association, and the 33rd Annual Congress in Las Vegas was an extraordinary experience."

A supervisor who had just started working at Virginia State University introduced him to the APA more than 15 years ago. She signed him up for an APA membership and soon began impressing upon the department the importance of active involvement in the local Richmond APA Chapter. It was there that Massenburg first learned about payroll certification.

In 2003, he earned his Certified Payroll Professional (CPP) designation. After that, a new professional arena opened itself to him.

"That's when my payroll career took off," he explains. "Promotion after promotion -- It seemed like everyone was looking for candidates with specialized experience and payroll certifications."

Since then, Massenburg has been involved with the APA and various payroll activities. For the Richmond APA Chapter, he participated as a Chapter of the Year Coordinator Committee member, served as a Government Relations Officer and Fundamental Payroll Certification (FPC) instructor, and earned a spot in the chapter's Hall of Fame.

He's also been involved with the Virginia Statewide Payroll Conference, serving as Secretary, Historian, and on the Registration Committee. On the national level, Massenburg has volunteered for National Payroll Week's Money Matters National Education Day, coordinated study groups, helped other pay pros through APA's Hotline Referral Service, and served on APA's Government Relations Task Force.

Beyond payroll, Massenburg truly shines as an individual and as a leader. He's a staunch supporter of the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, and the Central Virginia Food Bank. He's an active member of his church, serving multiple ministries, and is also the Treasurer of the Petersburg Center for Development, a local nonprofit that embraces the economic, social, and educational awareness of the community.

When asked if he would encourage others to apply for the annual Education Grants, Massenburg's response was a resounding "yes."

"If I can win a grant, anyone can. It takes dedication to your profession, and you must like what you are doing," he advises.

He offers three pieces of sage advice:

  1. Join a local APA chapter and become involved in its growth by actively serving on boards and committees.
  2. Select a mentor in the profession; someone you look up to, but to whom you can easily talk with.
  3. Attend meetings, seminars, workshops, and conferences to gain education, learn best practices, and stay abreast of changing legislation that impacts payroll.
Interested in receiving a 2016 Education Grant? The deadline to apply is February 16, 2016. Visit for more information.


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