Many of our Getting Ahead graduates are committed to applying concepts learned in our programs. Dorrine Henderson is one who has dedicated herself. Please read her compelling story.


Horace Mann once said “Let us not be content to wait and see what will happen, but give us the determination to make the right things happen.” Getting Ahead Graduate Dorrine Henderson is someone who makes right things happen.

Dorrine jumps into new opportunities with both feet. Today Dorrine is completing her master’s degree at IUSB in counseling and human services and will graduate in May of 2017. She was previously an AmeriCorps member at Bridges and still volunteers at Bridges.  When asked why, she states “if it wasn’t for Bridges I would not be where I am today”

Dorrine is an engaging, warm individual who exhibits endless energy, and she uses that energy to implement her vision for the future.

When Dorrine first moved to South Bend, she enrolled in classes at Ivy Tech. Despite health problems that could have easily discouraged her from completing her degree, she graduated in May 2012 with an Associate in Human Services. She didn’t stop there -- she went on and achieved a Bachelor of Human Services from Bethel College graduating Magna Cum Laude.  Dorrine said that studying human services “was cleansing for me.”

Throughout her time at Ivy Tech, Dorrine found multiple ways to be an activist. She served as vice president of student government and was a member of the Black Student Union.

It was also through Ivy Tech that she learned of Getting Ahead classes. As a nontraditional student in a new environment, Getting Ahead provided the needed support and empowerment. “Getting Ahead boosts your morale.  There’s a light at the end of the tunnel.”

After Getting Ahead, Dorrine graduated from Bridges’ Financial Management Class, and then stepped into a leadership role facilitating our Getting Ahead classes at Mishawaka schools and organizing our Future Story leadership program. She continues to facilitate classes for Bridges.

Dorrine raised her two granddaughters and, like their Grandmother, both are college bound. When asked how she balanced schoolwork while taking care of grandchildren, she replies, “I am determined.”

Her education, life experiences, and encounter with Bridges have given her tremendous insight, helped her see her strengths and allowed her to form bonds with others. “I have a unique way of getting people to open up,” she reflects. She currently puts this skill into action in her internships at The Center for the Homeless and Ryan’s Place.

Bonnie Bazata, former executive director and founder of SJC Bridges, calls Dorrine her “hero.” Today’s executive director, LeRoy King III, adds that “Dorrine’s passion and enthusiasm for our graduates is contagious.”

Dorrine’s dream is to open her own mental health and addictions facility, which she reminds people will include Getting Ahead classes. Dorrine serves as an inspiration to us, and she is a powerful reminder that - there’s always a way to pursue your dreams.