The Shirley Hendrick Award recognizes an administrator University-wide who has contributed to the success of Penn State’s efforts to serve adult learners. The award is named in memory of Shirley Hendrick (1936–2000), the first recipient, dean for continuing education in the Smeal College of Business and inaugural chair of the Commission for Adult Learners, who advocated for continuing education.
Throughout her career working with adult learners, which began at Penn State in 2008, nominators said Everhart has been an advocate for adults by creating educational opportunities and peer-mentorship programs for students. She also serves as the academic adviser for students enrolled in the online Masters in Professional Studies program.
Considered one of her most notable innovations, nominators said Everhart created online peer mentoring groups for new online students.
“Trisha understands that helping students feel connected to the program can improve their retention and eventual graduation,” a nominator said. “Consequently, she organized small groups of incoming students who shared common interests and classes. These types of study groups in residence would ordinarily emerge organically; however, Trisha became the catalyst to allow our adult students to create comparable links.”
Everhart works with students who are an average age of 35. Most are fully employed and have families. She relies on her experiences as an adult learner — she earned her master of education in higher education through Penn State World Campus while working full time and raising a family — to guide her throughout her career.
Her life experiences, nominators said, allow her to be a fierce advocate for her students.
“Our strong retention rate and eventual high graduation rate is a testament to her daily efforts with students,” a nominator said. “At the same time, she is clearly the voice of the student during our program management meetings. Dealing with students one-on-one, she understands their needs and desires. As a result of her efforts, we have added a number of program initiatives to increase student engagement. With Everhart’s help, we have also worked with our faculty, a mix of academics and practitioners, to mold our practices to be more student-friendly.”