Kamasha Hendrickson '00

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Kamasha Hendrickson '00

Kamasha Hendrickson '00 studied political science and sociology at Union. The Greek courses she took, as well as a political science class with Professor James Underwood, were her favorites. Outside the classroom, she loved being an R.A. in Richmond Hall. Kamasha, originally from St. Kitts and Rochester, N.Y., now works as a senior meeting planner in Washington, D.C.

How did you find Union and why did you choose to attend?

The summer of my junior year in high school, I participated in an internship at the University of Rochester/Strong Hospital. My best friend worked in one of their labs; her boss (Krista) always spoke about her time at college with excitement. A few months later, I ran into Krista at a college fair, where I learned the name of the college she attended. I visited Union’s campus and fell in love with the architecture and greenery, and decided to apply. I wish I had a better story but I knew nothing about what to look for when selecting a college – so I was sold on fun, trees and buildings. I have never regretted that decision.

Who were your mentors and how important was their guidance?

As a first-generation immigrant and also the first person to attend college in my family, I did not have the privilege of having mentors or gleaning from their experience. I was on my own. I turned to my high school counselor for assistance but she told me to apply to community college because that was the only school I could get into. But I am hard of hearing, so I didn’t listen to her and applied to the schools I wanted to attend. Funny thing is, I found out she told all the Black students the same thing and none of us listened to her.

Students often feel pressure to do well in college. Did you feel any particular pressure?

Yes, definitely. Back in my day, grades were mailed to parents. So at the end of each trimester, my dad would call to review my grades. I dreaded those calls. I knew my parents made a huge financial sacrifice to send me to Union so I didn’t want to let them down.

Where did you feel most seen on campus? Most invisible?

I felt seen by my circle of friends and would always be surprised when someone would pass me and say, “Hi Kamasha.”

Have you provided any mentorship yourself, academically or otherwise?

Yes, I have provided guidance to family members as they prepare for adulthood. In my career, I do the same assisting colleagues with making the right connections.

What made you click? Where did you find your niche? What experience made you feel like you belonged at Union?

My freshman and sophomore years in the Richmond dorm, I met so many amazing women who made me feel at home. We laughed, their families opened their homes to me, and they introduced me to many new experiences. Experiences that I don’t think I would have taken part in, if it weren’t for them. I am still friends with many of them and was even in one of their weddings.

How do you feel your Union experience differed from that of your peers?

I feel I may be the only student who went to a professor for assistance and had that professor say, “Aren’t you here as part of a scholarship program? Go to them for help.” I told him I had no idea what he was talking about and didn’t know the people he mentioned. I was so shocked. When he realized I had no idea what he was talking about he changed his tune, but I quickly dropped his class and never looked back. That was my second life-lesson in my attempt to purse an education – that I had to figure this out on my own, as there are people who only see your color and not your qualifications, and your potential.

A graphic that says being a first generation college student

Students and alumni share their experiences as the first in their families to attend college.

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Were there any particular programs or people at Union who really made a difference to you, either academically or personally?

There are a few people who come to mind when I think of Union. Professors Underwood, Hislope and Huggins, thank you for your guidance and writing my graduate school recommendations. Cequyna Moore ’00, thank you for letting me borrow your textbook, being my rock senior year and helping me settle in the DMV. Chastity (Richardson) Stapleton ’99 and Kelly (Houle) Whitmore ’00, thank you for your unwavering friendship and always eating with me.


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