Shirley Hendrick Award

2023 Recipient

Dr. Shannon Corkery

Director of Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) World Campus Programs and associate teaching professor of HDFS

Shannon Corkery, director of Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) World Campus Programs and associate teaching professor of HDFS, has been honored with the 2023 Shirley Hendrick Award, presented by the Penn State Commission for Adult Learners for service to adult learners.

Nominators said Corkery is committed to advocating and creating avenues for adult learners to flourish as Penn State students and as emerging professionals; sharing that she’s creative and quick in identifying and pursue innovative adaptations to support these diverse learners.

For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, when many HDFS students feared a lack of required internship opportunities would push out their graduation dates, Corkery was quick to help find solutions through the creation of a project-based course alternative to fulfill the requirement. Knowing adult learners often enroll with substantial work experience, Corkery has also led efforts to guide students to earn academic credit for these relevant experiences. Nominators said this saves students both time and money as they look to jump-start their careers.

Corkery is mindful that students, and adult learners in particular, often have many life commitments they are balancing along with their education. With this in mind, Corkery and collaborators work to integrate high-impact experiences for engagement and learning within course settings as well as through easy-to-access co-curricular offerings; all with an eye towards helping individuals get the most out of their time as students, and in accessible ways.

Through a partnership with the Jana Marie Foundation, Corkery has helped facilitate hundreds of students to be trained and certified in mental-health first aid as part of their coursework. Corkery has also led efforts to connect students with the opportunity to hear from diverse voices about an array of life experiences through launching a regular author/speaker event that partners with a course in her home department, HDFS 254n: Reading Our Lives: Understanding Human Development and Diversity Through Memoirs.

Through these events, students and Penn State community members across all campuses have been able to hear from Wes Moore, New York Times best-selling author of “The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates”; Jennifer Finney Boylan, NYT best-selling author of “She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders”; David Sheff, NYT best-selling author of “Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction”; Nic Sheff, NYT best-selling author of “Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines”; Tarana Burke, best-selling author of “Unbound: My Story of Liberation and the Me Too Movement” and co-editor of “You Are Your Best Thing: Vulnerability, Shame Resilience, and the Black Experience”; and most, recently, Rebekah Taussig, author of “Sitting Pretty: The View from My Ordinary Resilient Disabled Body.”

Corkery has also provided support in offering a career panel each semester that brings in professional and alumni speakers and reaches students across all Penn State campuses via Zoom. Events like these regularly see hundreds of students attending.

“Dr. Corkery goes above and beyond for our adult learners to ensure that they have a supportive learning environment and a positive Penn State journey,” a nominator said. “She has a unique ability to continuously recognize challenges and needs for our adult learners and, most importantly, she matches that recognition with initiative and creativity to find and generate solutions and opportunities.”

Shirley Hendrick Award

The Shirley Hendrick Award recognizes a University employee  whose visionary accomplishments have contributed significantly to foster and to  increase Penn State’s efforts to serve the adult learner. The award is open to any University employees who

  • Demonstrates leadership, support, and advocacy for adult  learners throughout the University community.
  • Champions strategic initiatives to integrate best practices for adult learners into the overall landscape of the University.
  • Encourages innovative activities to foster and inspire a culture of collaboration while improving access to adult learner programs and services.
  • Exemplifies the spirit of entrepreneurial and visionary leadership in creating new opportunities for adult learners to access Penn State programs.

2024 Nomination Information and Deadline

Nomination Instructions

  • Complete the online nomination form and two short letters of support to nominate a colleague for the Shirley Hendrick Award.
  • Nominations for the 2024 award will close on December 15, 2023.

Submit a nomination



Typically, an individual will receive the award only once, unless the subsequent nomination demonstrates that  the current work being recognized is new and distinct from the body of work previously recognized.

An individual who has received the award is not eligible to receive it again for five years.

The selection committee may, after reviewing the nominations, elect not to select a  recipient for a given year.

Award selection committee contact:  Jodie Overstrom,


Past Award Recipients

Click here to view past recipients of the Shirley Hendrick Award.

Note: All award nominees should be prepared to present at the 2024 Hendrick conference as part of the recognition for the award recipient. Further information will be shared with those individuals by the Hendrick Award and Conference planning committee following award winner selection.