Ann Hendrick, 46, remembers the "time of chaos" when Mississippi schools belatedly integrated.
"That was the time that most affected me in life," she recalls of her sophomore year at Murrah High School in 1970. While many whites fled to the suburbs, the experience inspired Hendrick to dedicate her life to bringing equality to education.
Hendrick studied sociology at Millsaps before going on to obtain a master's degree in higher education at Indiana University. It was during her undergraduate years that she met the women she calls her role models, who pointed her to a life of service and the importance of social issues, such as those underpinning the women's rights movement in the 1970s. She describes Frances Coker, then the chairwoman of the sociology department, and Jane Rossen, dean of women, as smart, passionate mentors at a time when many women weren't working in business or higher education.
Since 2005, Hendrick has been director of college planning for Education Services Foundation, a nonprofit that offers free college preparation services. She oversees an outreach team that visits public and private schools throughout the state. Last year, Hendrick says with pride, ESF visited 80 percent of schools in Mississippi, helping mostly minority and first-generation college students succeed in higher education.
Hendrick is excited that ESF is expanding, with a new branch at Medgar Evers Library, in addition to the branches at Eudora Welty Library and in Flowood.
Before coming to ESF, Hendrick worked for 18 years as dean of admissions and financial aid at Millsaps. Hendrick says her years inside the admissions process were perfect preparation for her job with ESF, and she is a champion of liberal arts education. Its emphasis on critical thinking and the ability to write, she says, "keeps you educated for life."
Aside from a brief stints in Indiana, San Francisco and Mexico, Hendrick has always lived in Jackson. Describing her years growing up on Crane Boulevard in Fondren, she says "my world was Bailey and Murray." She and her husband, Tim Kopernak, now live in Belhaven. Her children share her dedication to community service . Her son Neil works at the Computer Co-Op in the Rainbow shopping center, while her daughter Meg is in New Orleans, volunteering with hurricane relief organizations.
In her spare time, Hendrick likes to kayak and play racquetball, but she admits that helping disadvantaged students get into college is her consuming passion.
"It's really where most of my energy has gone."