ALAMOSA— Grateful for the great story they began at Adams State University, Mark ’89 and Stephanie ’93, ‘01 Hensley recently established the Hensley Wrestling Scholarship to assist students. Mark earned his bachelor’s degree from ASU in 1989; Stephanie received both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from ASU, in 1993 and 2001, respectively
Their gift was motivated by a desire to give back to the community. “While I was a student, the Southway Scholarship helped us out financially, and now we can provide someone else that same opportunity and help make their life easier,” said Mark, who was an All-American wrestler. Stephanie remembers her parents bringing the family to events on campus. “Adams State felt like home and was a place I wanted to invest my time to earn a degree.”
After Mark graduated, the couple moved to Ignacio, CO., where he began teaching woodshop and physical education and coached wrestling, soccer, and football. “He had to coach everything,” Stephanie said. “I stayed home with the kids.” Stephanie began working on her teaching degree by commuting to Alamosa every summer. At the time, student teaching was restricted to schools in the immediate region, so she was very grateful to Dr. Phyllis Kearns-Kramer, who agreed to supervise her in Durango.
The Hensleys returned to the San Luis Valley to be near family and began teaching in Del Norte. Mark taught computer-aided drafting, woodshop and building trades, and coached wrestling. Stephanie taught third grade, and, with Mark’s encouragement, coached girls track. “Athletes are held to a higher standard,” Mark said. “They have to do all the academic work other students do, as well as keep to a code of conduct, and attend daily workouts and practices, in addition to competing.”
The couple understands how earning a degree, no matter how challenging, pays off. Mark worked full-time while earning his degree, and they raised their children and lived on a tight budget while Stephanie finished her degree. Mark recommends approaching college as you would a job, with the same dedication and commitment. Stephanie agrees: “Find your passion and take the necessary pathways to get there so you can do what you love for the rest of your life.”
In 1999, Mark left the teaching profession to work at Valley Electric and in 2002 earned his master electrician license and eventually bought the company. After teaching fourth grade and being the intervention specialist in the Alamosa School District, Stephanie joined the Adams State Teacher Education Department eight years ago. She earned her Ph.D. in K-12 studies from Capella University in 2016. All three of the Hensleys’ children are also ASU alumni.