Campus Closeup: Susan Henderson
Susan Henderson (Military Science) describes herself as “a jack of all trades, but a master of none.” As senior secretary of her department, some of her ‘trades’ include helping students, dealing with parents, checking calendars and schedules, database work, fundraising research and other clerical duties. But the students remember her most for her candy. “I’ve placed strategic candy jars around our offices. Some of our students go from class to class all day without any breaks, so I like to have small things around for them to munch on. I especially buy things with protein, like pretzels and peanuts.”
Henderson is originally from Marquette. Most of her family still resides here, which is one reason why she decided to remain in this area. Another reason is that “there’s just an openness about people up here. We have a tight community and we appreciate it.” Henderson’s children want to stay in the area as well, and are looking towards jobs that will enable that.
The military science department hired Henderson 15 years ago, and in that time she’s learned more than she anticipated she would as a secretary. “My job has given me a better appreciation for the military. NMU’s soldiers know that they have roots here and that they can always come back. I’ve come to see myself as the arms of the military science department; they see what they want, and I help them reach it. I’ve also learned to always have a plan C, no matter how good plan A looks.”
Outside of work, Henderson lists her family as her major hobby. She enjoys going to camp and spending time with her grandchildren. She and her husband also have three “granddogs” that live with them. Henderson used to horseback ride, but a bad back has kept her away from the stables. She devotes much of her time to volunteer work, and is known for assisting with local fish fries. “We encourage our recruits to volunteer, and they help out a lot with the fish fries. We always get positive feedback about how helpful and polite they are. Getting those kinds of phone calls made me want to get out and volunteer too.”
The most memorable work experience for Henderson was the year her brother-in-law died. She had a fear of flying and had never been on an airplane at that point, but had to get on one to attend the service. “The department was putting on Team Survivor at that point, so I was on the phone long-distance from the plane trying to plan it out and not freak out at the same time.” One of the Team Survivor teams ended up naming themselves “Susan’s Angels” in her honor, which made Henderson feel better during her difficult situation.
Henderson’s favorite thing about NMU is that “it reflects the community I grew up in. As a whole, we are very hands on, and we make sure that every ‘t’ is crossed and every ‘i’ is dotted.”