Michael Henderson ’19

College of Education and Human Development graduate
Online MBA student
Demand Generation Specialist, GE

Michael Henderson has learned by necessity to be a master juggler of roles – father of a growing family, fulltime employee, husband. And, as a first-generation college student, he is about to complete his graduate degree this month, thanks to the helpful option of online education that enabled him to achieve that goal while balancing school with the rest of his busy life.

Born in Indianapolis, Henderson moved to Louisville when he was 10 and always had college, particularly UofL, in mind. He earned his undergraduate degree in sport administration through the College of Education and Human Development – and then there were no live events as the sports world shut down at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

So the “timing just seemed right,” he said, and he decided to explore his alma mater’s online Master of Business Administration, which he could pursue while continuing to work.

“I thought I was always better at doing online anytime,” he said. When he investigated the College of Business online MBA, he thought that option would suit him best. “And it has,” he said.

Henderson perceived the business degree as professional development and “that opportunity for growth. Having an MBA from UofL by itself would put me ahead of other individuals:”

“It’s nice to have that education to back up your experiences,” he said.

Critical to Henderson’s experiences has been the backing of his employer, GE Appliances. “GE has been able to help me financially pay for my MBA. The company has invested in me. GE has been great.”

Henderson started at the Louisville company in production, making dishwashers and other appliances. He would begin his day early on the line, come home in the afternoon and have some family time before working on his MBA at night.

He was promoted early last year to a demand generation specialist, who helps find leads for area sales managers. He also has worked with GE’s several affinity groups, ranging from veterans’ to women’s groups, formed to help the company in its diversity efforts.

Henderson’s first daughter arrived when he was a19-year-old college sophomore, so he learned early on that work-life balance might look like printing off class material as well as many a unicorn picture for her to color for entertainment while he studied. Another daughter born this summer expanded the household for him and his wife, Madison, who earned her bachelor’s degree in 2019 and then her master’s degree in social work from UofL’s Kent School of Social Work.

With such a full family and work life, other people might have veered from a path toward further education, but Henderson didn’t abandon his plan – a scenario that may even include a doctorate in the future. “That degree or degrees will always be with you, no matter what,” he said.

Sometimes it took creativity to keep on track.

“I just always thought…. You are writing your own book and your own story,” he said. And doing so means “sticking to really what you want to do and thinking outside the box.”

But going his own way didn’t mean going it alone.

“Having the right people around you and the right mentors…Having a family too, you always need help – a teacher, a mentor or friends,” he said.

Henderson tries to return the favor by working with others in the community, whether mentoring or coaching basketball, “anything to kind of be a part of a child’s life if I can,” he said.

His advice to others is to be intentional about pursuing what’s really important.

“Always network early. You kind of have to really focus on your path and your script,” Henderson said. “As long as you know that, hey, this is what I want to do, then, hey, go do it.”