The new president of the Northwest Community College visited Prince Rupert last Wednesday for her first official visit to the campus as president.
Denise Henning is an educator from Oklahoma and is a member of the Cherokee and Choctaw First Nations. She says that her own personal experiences as an Aboriginal student will help her address the challenges that many First Nations students still face when trying to get an education.
“They are me. I came from a small community in Oklahoma and I had very little experience in the big world. The fact that my family came from poverty. I know what it’s like to be in a place where you don’t know how to navigate a system like higher education, because education itself can be a huge undertaking. And because I was a single mom with children, I knew that I had to better my life to better theirs, and education was the solution,” says Henning.
She says what got her through school and to eventually get a doctorate, was the strong personal connections she formed along the way. She hopes to promote those kind of connections for today’s students by interacting with them as much as possible while still managing the big picture for the school.
“I’ll always remember whose in the middle of the circle. And if its not about the learners, then who is it about,” says Henning.
Henning takes the leadership of the Northwest Community College’s administration just as the school is about to begin strategic planning, which will define the school’s goals for the next five years. She says that she wants to see communities and industry come out and say what their needs and goals are for the future, and the school will help to provide them.
“This isn’t about Denise Henning, this is about providing for our communities and industries and making sure that we’re diversifying the economy and providing economic development that will have careers and sustainability for the First Nations community, for non-Aborginal communities, for the port and for business and industries,” she