To Sheri Henriksen, being a mother is the ultimate fulfillment in life. Aside from her rewarding careers in journalism, petroleum engineering and the humanities, Henriksen believes her greatest accomplishment was raising her two sons.
The mother taught her children about the joys of learning from a young age, wanting them to share her educational aspirations and learn the value of education and all it offers. When her youngest son, Matthew ’19, became an Aggie, her love for learning translated into a love for Texas A&M University after witnessing Matthew’s excitement about the curriculum and the dedicated work his professors were undertaking to help students excel.
To honor her journey as a mother and to show her appreciation to Texas A&M, Henriksen planned a gift in her estate, named in her son’s honor, that will establish a chair in the Department of Engineering Technology and Industrial Distribution after her lifetime.
A LIFELONG LEARNER
Henriksen began her learning journey as a journalism major at Texas Tech University. She then branched out to the engineering field at The University of Texas at Austin, studying petroleum engineering. For her master’s degree, Henriksen delved into the world of liberal arts at Rice University to study the humanities.
Her education led to many successes and promising careers, but only five years after earning her master's degree, she longed to be a student again. She returned to her alma mater this spring to enroll in The University of Texas’ TOWER Fellows Program, a nine-month immersive and customizable experience for accomplished professionals who wish to take their careers to the next level.
Aside from being a lifelong learner, Henriksen also has a huge heart for philanthropy. Her motto is to always keep learning and to give back to her community. “I love to see my donations used for the greater good,” she said. “Because I love learning so much, I want to give back to those who understand the value of an education in our society.” Henriksen’s philanthropy revolves around educational institutions such as universities, National Geographic and museums like the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.
“If I can help even one person, I feel as if I’ve paved not only my way, but also the way for others,” she added.
A MOTHER’S DREAM
As a Longhorn, Henriksen had resignations about her son attending a rival school, but quickly changed her perception when Matthew excelled in his classes. “I saw Matthew absolutely blossom in his program,” she explained. “He shined in his classes, and I knew he was in the right place.”
Seeing her son fall in love with learning was everything she could have hoped for. Henriksen felt as though her hard work had paid off. “If your children are happy, your life is pretty fulfilled,” she said. Matthew’s chosen major of manufacturing and mechanical engineering fueled his fire and allowed him to move forward, confidently facing any challenge that came his way.
“Matthew didn’t want to just understand the theories behind his curriculum—he wanted to actively participate and see it in real life rather than in an equation,” she explained. Henriksen believes education thrives through professors who actively engage with their students. She has experienced firsthand how much of a difference these types of educators can make, so her philanthropic goals to universities consist of funding department chairs, professorships and scholarships that support hands-on learning.