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.”