Dorrine Henderson: I am Determined

Written by Amy Packard

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.  

At 66 years old, she still jumps into new opportunities with both feet.  Today Dorrine is continuing her education at IUSB, pursuing a master’s degree in counseling and human services.  She took an AmeriCorps position with Bridges a year ago and now works with us through the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) through WorkOne.

Dorrine is an engaging, warm individual who has the energy of someone half her age. That energy is used to implement her vision for the future.

Six years ago Dorrine moved to South Bend, and 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’s degree in human services.  She didn’t stop there -- she went on and achieved her bachelor’s degree in human services from Bethel College.  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 our 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. 

Dorrine is raising her two granddaughters and they are in high school now.  Like their Grandmother, both are college bound. When asked how she balances schoolwork while she raises her grandchildren, she replies, “I am determined.”  

Her education, life experiences, and experience 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. “Dorrine is a hero to me,” Bonnie Bazata, SJC Bridges Executive Director said.  “She’s always given us her loving support and encouragement.  She’s brought tremendous gifts and insights to our staff.  She makes a difference every day.”

Her 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.