By Ann Gill (M.A., ’76)
Alan and Cathy Hendrickson have become a wonderful support system for some of the international students and visiting faculty on campus, in part though volunteering with the Football 101 and Basketball 101 programs. The couple parlay their own international experience into helpful and welcomed interactions.
Alan, who grew up in Eaton, Colorado, graduated with a CSU degree in vocational agriculture. While on campus, he was on the dairy judging team and in the honorary fraternity for vocational agriculture. He also was part of Campus Crusade for Christ. After graduation, he started working for Campus Crusade, first at Michigan State, then as director at the University of New Mexico.
Cathy grew up in Albuquerque and, as she explains, “attended that rival school, UNM.” She is a dental hygienist, and she and Alan met and married during his time at UNM. Alan’s next position with Campus Crusade was at the University of Arizona, followed by an overseas posting to the University of South Pacific in the Fiji Islands for two years. The couple then returned to the University of Arizona for one more year.
As Alan’s parents were aging, they moved to Greeley, where Alan got a job at Aims Community College. He started a new program that brought young people from Thailand to Aims to learn English. He also served as the college’s director of international programs. Alan retired from Aims in 2010 and began volunteering at the University of Northern Colorado, doing conversation groups with international students. UNC then asked him to work part time in their Center for International Education while he continued the volunteer work with conversation groups.
Cathy spent most of her career as a dental hygienist. She also joined Alan assisting international students. She helped with conversation groups, proofread dissertations, and met with students’ wives to assist them.
Once they were back in Colorado, the couple began attending CSU football games, and on one away football trip, got to know current Alumni Association Director Kristi Bohlender (B.S., ’93; M.B.A., ’95), who at the time worked in Athletics. After learning their story, she asked the couple to help with the Football 101 and Basketball 101 programs for international students.
That was the beginning not only of wonderful help and support for the students but also wonderful friendships. Alan and Cathy connected with the international students and faculty who attended those events. Among the many friendships that developed were with a visiting scholar in the Chemistry Department; to this day, he and Alan speak by phone weekly. Another friendship involved a group from India. They all go out to eat together once a week. The Hendricksons also took an international couple to Mr. Rushmore recently and are planning tailgates at football games this fall for international students.
Their volunteer work extends beyond Football and Basketball 101. They helped at cap-and-gown distribution during commencement and have worked at the Stock Show in Denver, answering questions from people who stop at the CSU table and giving away green-and-gold schwag. They encourage other alumni to volunteer, explaining: “We had such great experiences in college; we want other students to have those experiences. We get way more than we give; we grow through all the new experiences. The world beyond our doorsteps is big ̶ be a part of it!”