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02-29-2008

Clarkson University Alumna Mickala Henson to be Inducted into 2008 Independent Sector Alumni Hall of Distinction

[A photograph for media use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/mhenson.jpg ]

Clarkson University Alumna Mickala S. Henson will be among 19 individuals honored by the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities (CICU) during the 2008 Independent Sector Alumni Hall of Distinction Awards Ceremony and Legislative Reception on Monday, March 3, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the War Room of the New York State Capitol in Albany, N.Y. Mhenson

The Alumni Hall of Distinction was created in 2000 to recognize New York's Independent Sector graduates who make contributions to society through their careers and community involvement. This year, CICU will recognize courageous alumni, who are actively serving in the United States military or are veterans.

Henson was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army in May 2007, upon graduating from Clarkson with a bachelor of science degree in aeronautical engineering. A Waverly, N.Y., native, she is now stationed at Fort Rucker, Ala., for flight school.

Henson has known since she was a little girl that she wanted to fly helicopters. "When I was in fifth grade, the Vietnam Moving Wall came to our town. At the start of the opening ceremony, as a helicopter flew overhead, tears came to my father's eyes. My dad was a Vietnam veteran and that was the first and last time I ever saw him cry. I knew at that moment that I wanted to be a helicopter pilot someday."

But flying is not the only reason Henson is serving in the armed forces today. "I joined the military to help people, to help protect American liberties, to protect individual soldiers, and to help people in other nations," says Henson. "But beyond that, the military has given me the opportunity to help soldiers reach their full potential, both for the benefit of the group and to lead a fuller life.

College helped prepare me for this. The variety of experiences has made me a well-rounded and capable person. The sense of community at Clarkson University helped teach me how to be part of something bigger than myself.

Henson says that hard work has brought her the success, which got her where she is today. "I've always tried my hardest," says Henson. "When you always do your best, no matter what the task is, you put yourself in the best position for whatever may come next. I always try to excel in all my undertakings. I also try to get involved as much as possible to expand my horizons. In college, I took a wide variety of courses and got involved in extracurricular activities. Being knowledgeable and well-rounded will always be beneficial no matter where a career path may lead."

The Hall of Fame honorees were selected by CICU Board of Trustee member presidents. Approximately 50 college and university presidents will attend the reception, along with state legislators and other policymakers. The master of ceremonies for this year's Alumni Hall of Distinction Legislative Reception and Awards Ceremony will be Joseph Robert Kerrey, president of The New School. Kerrey is a former governor of Nebraska and U.S. Senator who received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his service during Vietnam.

In addition to recognition at the reception, a full-scale exhibit including alumni photos and biographical profiles will be on display in the Legislative Office Building in Albany from March 3-7. A virtual gallery will be online at http://www.cicu.org/successStories/alumniHall.php on Monday.

The Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities represents the chief executives of New York's 100+ independent (private, not-for-profit) colleges and universities on issues of public policy. Member colleges compose the largest private sector of higher education in the world and confer most of the bachelor's degrees, master's degrees, and doctoral and first-professional degrees earned in New York State. Its member campuses enroll more than 460,000 students, including 300,000 New York State residents.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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