High school graduation was only weeks away in 2004 when a 17-year-old girl at Plano Senior High School had the guts to raise her hand in English class. Her teacher had thrown out a question that would ultimately change the young lady’s life when she nonchalantly asked if anyone was in need of college money.
No one else in her class had the nerve to say yes. But Nadia Khedairy, who now works in Academic Advising at Collin College, was in a tough time and had no idea where she would be a few weeks later. That’s when the Hendrick Scholarship Foundation came into action and set Nadia on a pathway to college, to help herself and eventually thousands of other young people seeking higher education.
“Everything comes full circle,” said an excited Nadia about her experience as a Hendrick Scholarship recipient and now as the Collin College adviser specifically for students who are receiving Hendrick Scholarship funds.
The Hendrick Scholarship Foundation, which was begun almost 30 years ago in honor of late and long-time Plano ISD Superintendent H. Wayne Hendrick, serves lower income, first-generation college students who have overcome adversity; it is funded by local businesses and individual donations.
Students are recommended by school faculty and chosen through an admissions process. Scholarship recipients go on to participate in a program that consists of financial assistance, coaching, academic planning, career guidance and life skills workshops, all with the intent to equip students with the tools to lift themselves out of poverty.
Nadia, along with her younger siblings, was born in the United States to parents who made the journey to the Western World from Baghdad, Iraq, seeking a better life. They established a successful business and had saved for the college education of their children; however, an economic downturn in 2001 forced the family into bankruptcy. All college savings were lost.
The struggles continued for Nadia’s family, and her parents soon divorced. With little money for food, Nadia took a job at McDonald’s at age 15, walking there in the heat and the cold for two-and-a-half years. She was no stranger to hard work, having helped her parents in their business since age 13.
But after she raised her hand in that English class, the Hendrick Scholarship Foundation gave her a chance for higher education and to move beyond hourly-waged jobs. Attending Collin College for two years and then University of North Texas for two years, Nadia used the scholarship to her advantage, graduating with a perfect 4.0 average.
“When I see students say they can’t do something, I don’t get it,” she added. “Always be humble, and if you want something really badly, you can usually get it.”
Nadia said she failed Advanced Placement U.S. History her junior year at PSHS because of lack of focus during her family’s turmoil, but then she coincidentally ended up student teaching with her very own history teacher, Matt Cone.
“He didn’t remember that I failed his class until I told him at the end of my student teaching,” she said. Matt had so much confidence in her abilities that he turned his class over to her when his wife had a baby. Nadia said that made her cry and become even more determined.
She then taught at Williams High School for three years and eventually ended up in the Collin College position where she can give back to young people who are just like she was.
“My life has come full circle,” Nadia reiterated about being able to steer young adults on the road to success, using the same Hendrick Scholarship that molded her adult life.
Taste 2018, the signature fundraiser for the Hendrick Scholarship Foundation, will be will be held at Classic BMW for its April 19 extravaganza. Guests will gather to enjoy an exciting evening of cocktails, auction and more, surrounded by the tastes of premier chefs and restaurants.
Chef John Tesar of Knife restaurant and “Top Chef” fame will serve as celebrity honorary chef. Kellie Rasberry of KISS 106FM and the Kidd Kraddick Morning show, will be on stage as the honorary chair. Sponsorship, ticket and volunteer information is available online.