Northwest student overcomes struggles to pursue degree

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SENATOBIA, MS (06/16/2017) Danielle Henry's journey has always been a difficult one. But the recent Northwest Mississippi Community College graduate is not one to let obstacles and struggles dictate her life. Henry, who has Asperger Syndrome, recently graduated from Northwest with special honors.

Henry, who lives in Walls, studied accountancy at Northwest. On May 12, she received her Associate of Arts. She has been on the President's List and is a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. She plans to attend either Mississippi State University or the University of Mississippi. Both have offered her scholarships.

"Danielle is very aware of everything she struggles with on a daily basis and those struggles are real, but she has overcome a lot of those struggles. She is a hard worker and has great grades, despite the fact that this was her first time being away from home," said Gerald Beard, Northwest Disability Support Services coordinator. "Aspergers is an extra hurdle, and Danielle has jumped that hurdle on a regular basis."

Henry was not diagnosed until she was in the spring of her junior year of high school. She says that one way she overcomes her struggles is by keeping busy. She does take some medication for anxiety, which she says helped her tremendously in her senior year of high school. "I've always had a narrow way of thinking, to the point where it caused me a lot of strain. By that I mean, I always wanted to stick on a path, and if anything else happened, it would irritate me. So taking this medication kind of relaxed that," Henry said.

Henry lived on campus during her time at Northwest, which for her was a big step. She dealt with that challenge by keeping busy. "I resisted the urge to go home," Henry said, smiling. She felt she had a pretty good roommate experience, but usually keeps to herself, she said.

Henry says that her overall experience at Northwest was a positive one. "Most of my teachers have been very good. Mr. Beard has been a big help in the whole experience," Henry said.

She has clear goals in mind. After finishing her bachelor's, she plans to become a Certified Public Accountant. "I've always been good in math, which is why I am studying accounting," Henry said.

Beard said that he has seen Henry make great strides, especially in communication with others, since coming to Northwest, and that it was because she took ownership of her experience. "It is best when students with disabilities do what Danielle did. She came to orientation, decided what services she needed and made a plan. Lots of times, students try to navigate through on their own, and I don't see them until there is a crisis and they are already behind in school," Beard said.

Henry had some advice for others facing challenges in coming to college. "Make sure your teachers know that you have a mindset that is different from other students. Consult regularly with your adviser at the Disability Center. It's kind of up to you to keep them well-informed, because they cannot help you if they don't know that something's wrong," Henry said.

For more information on Northwest's Disability Services, contact Beard at 662-562-3309 or email