UofL senior Hadley Hendrick, a student in Bioengineering, is the winner of the Mary K. Bonsteel Tachau Essay Contest, which is designed to raise awareness of the historical sociological attitudes toward women of the 20th Century and their impact on individuals and society as a whole. A member of Women 4 Women, a professional board that prepares women to become leaders on campus and in the community, Hendrick balances her time between her work as a member and her education, which is a full time commitment.
Inspired by her uncle, who suffers from quadriplegia, Hendrick wanted to pursue a field of study that could help others like him to live better lives. Initially interested in pursuing medicine, Hendrick is uneasy with the sight of blood, but still wanted to do something that could positively impact the lives of others. No less committed to her vision, she has developed and pursued a passion in bioengineering.
“If doctor’s don’t have the tools that they need, they can’t do their job. That’s going back to the source of how I can make an impact. My uncle can’t even tie his own shoes. Seeing him, he loves technology. He’s one of the most technology advanced people in the household, so that he can write emails, and stay up with the news, even though he can barely use his hand. He uses his knuckle for the mouse. He has a lot of patience,” says Hendrick.
Sponsored by the Tachau family, the contest encouraged students to consider the struggle of women in the workplace, and how those efforts continue to shape the world around us. Named for Dr. Mary K. Bonsteel Tachau, a chair in the History department, the first woman to hold the position of chair at the university, Hendrick’s essay attended to the difficulties posed to Tachau, and how she overcame them.
She says, “My essay talked about the work that she did. She wrote a ton of letters to different people in our state legislature at the time and worked with different groups to work mainly on gender equality as that related to higher education. Also looking at it as a more social issue across the board. It also talked about and how that relates to now. How the work that she did was really important, but not quite as intersectional as it could be.”
Intersectional feminism focuses on the experiences of women of all social stripe, regardless of race, ethnicity, or economic class, something that Hendrick focuses on in her time in Women 4 Women.
Part of the Women’s Center, she explains of the group that they are, “dedicated to increasing education mainly, awareness through different topics. We are affiliated with the Women’s Center. We utilize them for resources for different events.
Life After Graduation
Ideally, Hendrick hopes to work in a medical device, part of her continuing pursuit of helping others whenever possible. In the meantime, she stays especially busy in her various extracurricular activities.
“I don’t have a life. I do a lot. It’s not easy, but it’s been one of the most important things for me, because it gave me a community on campus that engaged with social justice issues. Not just for women, but for LGTBQ+, people of color… it’s been really useful to me. It was definitely something that I really wanted,” Hendrick said.