Essence Kendrick and Devin Hendrick graduated from Fisk University in 2006. Both came to Fisk from Southern California and have returned to the area to impact their communities. The editors of the Fisk blog caught up to Essence and Devin to find out more about their lives after Fisk.
Since graduating from Fisk in 2006, both of you have returned to southern California to become educators. Where are you teaching?
EK: Currently, I am an Educational Specialist at Crenshaw High School in Los Angeles. I primarily work with 9-12 students with mild to moderate learning disabilities. I am also pursuing a Master’s degree at California State University, Dominguez Hills in Special Education.
DH: I have also become an educator and teach eighth grade English at Foshay Learning Center in Los Angeles, California.
What factors led you to come back to the Los Angeles Community to contribute to education?EK: I am originally from Inglewood, California. When I graduated from Fisk, my goal was to work with children. Devin’s father, who is also a special education teacher, recommended that I take the teacher’s certification tests and I passed. With my degree in psychology and the field work that I’ve done with special needs children, I feel that it has been a good match and I enjoy working with my students.
DH: I had contemplated a career in public relations and marketing, but as an English major, I wanted to put my skills to work in a way that would have an immediate benefit in my community. Since moving back, I have discovered that I enjoy working with children and exposing them to new knowledge.
How has the Fisk Experience prepared you for teaching responsibilities and understanding the importance of giving back?
DH: In addition to family members who instilled in me the desire to help others, Fisk University gave to me and inspired me to give back. As a child, I grew up in a strong family environment and as a young adult I had a great support system at Fisk. Many of my professors accommodated different learning styles and made learning interesting. As a teacher, I want to expose my students to the idea that learning is fun as well as necessary and that they can be successful academically.
EK: My experience at Fisk was largely shaped by my professors. I had Dr. Carson for my senior seminar class and I appreciated his commitment to accommodating our learning styles and he was very approachable. I have learned from his example in that I have to accommodate the different learning styles of my students at Crenshaw High School. Also, Dr. Stadler’s classes benefited me. He is very organized and he encouraged us to pursue excellence and those are traits that I am passing on to my students.
What do you miss most about Fisk?
EK: The main experience that I miss at Fisk is studying with my friends for an exam, completing the exam, and then going to Pancake Pantry to celebrate afterwards.
DH: I miss the environment of Nashville. I really enjoyed the uniqueness of the city and the spirit of Fisk is very special. I remember Fisk as a unified place with successful young African Americans in pursuit of degrees in their field. In today’s world, many students are “at college” but are not really “in college.” In most cases, my classmates at Fisk were focused. To be part of an environment of upwardly mobile young people in pursuit of excellence was incredible.
As your career continues, will you remain in education?
DH: I am having a great experience as a teacher and I would like to continue working with children as a school psychologist.
EK: Ultimately, I would like to have a career in counseling as a psychiatric social worker. I would like to make sure that children with special needs, who endure hardship, have the tools that they need to succeed.