story by Claire Miller
For 13 years, Gennie Hendrick (B.S.Ed. ’12, M.S. ’22) was a familiar face to the parents who enrolled their children at Georgia State University’s Lanette L. Suttles Child Development Center.
She was hired in 2007 to be a preschool assistant teacher. In this role, she developed educational activities for her students, assessed students’ performance and conducted parent-teacher conferences to update families about their children’s progress.
Within her first three years on the job, Hendrick earned her associate’s degree, gave birth to her son, Carter, and applied to the College of Education & Human Development’s (CEHD) bachelor’s program in birth through five education.
“Providing for my son became a top priority for me, and I wanted to continue my education so that I could advance in my field,” she said.
Hendrick earned her bachelor’s in 2012 and became a lead teacher and senior training specialist at the center. In her expanding roles, she oversaw interns from the CEHD, conducted workshops for teachers from the community and helped the center’s administrative staff implement special projects.
But in 2017, she met a student who would inspire her to consider a new educational path.
“I had a student with a speech delay and although I was a great teacher, I didn’t know how to help him. I decided to go back to school to become a speech-language pathologist,” Hendrick said.
She learned American Sign Language and took several prerequisite courses to be eligible for the CEHD’s master’s program in communication and sciences and disorders, which she’ll graduate from this spring.
While in the program, she became the project coordinator for the college’s Project NURTURE grant and received the Outstanding Clinician in Communication Sciences and Disorders Award from the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at this year’s CEHD Honors Day.
After graduation, Hendrick will prepare for her doctoral studies at the University of California, Irvine. She credits the mentors she’s had in her program and at the center – as well as the years she spent working directly with children – for her success.
“My foundation in education has been one of my biggest assets going through the communication sciences and disorders program,” she said. “The skills that made me a great teacher have helped me become a great clinician.”