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Military Veteran Honors Emory Experience With Planned Gift for Scholarship

Judith Hendrickson

Judith Hendrickson 68C

The first scholarship gift in Judith D. "Judy" (Colwell) Hendrickson's story enabled her to go to Emory College. When she graduated in 1968, the military offered what she considered her best career options, and she joined the Air Force.

She retired after 20 years of service, having attained the rank of lieutenant colonel and risen to directing contracts for the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (Joint STARS), responsible for 40 contracting professionals and $4 billion in government contracts.

Hendrickson's second scholarship is the one she gave. She established it for current students through the Emory College Scholarship Endowment Initiative, which will be funded further through her planned gift.

"I have always given credit to Emory for giving me the tools to achieve whatever success I have had in life," she says. "I got through Emory because of scholarships, and every year since I left, I have given something back for scholarships."

She appreciates that her Emory experience was so egalitarian.

"I never found any distinction between male and female students. I felt I was equal to anyone in any class. There was never any discussion about traditional gender roles, except for a mandatory sociology class in which it was examined from a historical perspective and how it did not make sense. At Emory, I had opportunities based on what I had demonstrated I was capable of doing."

The military offered her the best path to advancement. Today almost 20 percent of the Air Force is female, which leads all branches of the military. Hendrickson found that her Emory education prepared her well for duty.

"The classical liberal arts education of critical thinking, the ability to research and analyze, and to use judgment in weighing alternatives were very essential in the career I wound up in. I had no intention of going into the Air Force or staying for a career, but there were opportunities available to women that were not in the public sector. I really didn't even think about the barriers. Sure, most of the time I was the only female in my office, but charting unknown ground was exciting, and knowledge gave me confidence."

In her retirement, Hendrickson pursues an eclectic mix of hobbies from knitting to high performance driving and instruction. As she considers the future, she hopes that Emory College students who receive her scholarship appreciate the funding as she did.

"I hope that others who, like me, have the academic qualifications but not the financial means, will be able to attend Emory. A planned gift for scholarship is one way to leave a mark that you were here on this planet, and it's my way to give back."

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