HFC welcomes Courtney Henderson Matthews

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HFC English professor Courtney Henderson Matthews

It has been quite a whirlwind couple of months for Courtney Henderson Matthews. Not only did she get married and move to Michigan, she also began her new position at HFC as an English professor.

“We moved here straight from our honeymoon,” said Henderson, who lives in Detroit with her husband Dr. Jamaal Matthews, an educational studies professor at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

A native of Florida, Henderson Matthews is the eldest of four daughters. An alumna of Boyd H. Anderson High School in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, she went on to earn her bachelor’s degree in journalism and English literature from Florida A&M University (FAMU) in Tallahassee, FL. She earned her master's degree in English literature from the University of Toledo. She earned a second master’s degree in linguistics with a focus on endangered languages and language revitalization from the University of Hawaii at Mānoa.

Henderson Matthews earned her higher education professional certificate from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. Henderson earned her Ed.D. in applied learning sciences with a focus of the transfer of knowledge in writing centers at the University of Miami in Florida.

A lifelong dream

Being a professor is something Henderson Matthews has always wanted to do.

“I’ve always been an avid reader. I read a lot of novels at a young age. You’d see me taking a wagon full of books home from our local library. I’d always pretend I was teaching class with my dolls and stuffed animals,” she said. “I love writing and reading and sharing that passion with others. I enjoy sharing that passion with students because it can help them to perceive writing in a different way, especially if they’ve had negative experiences and are coming into class with preconceived notions.”

Henderson Matthews has been in higher education for 13 years. She taught at U-Toledo, U-Hawaii, and U-Miami. Prior to coming to HFC, she taught five years at Berkeley College in New York City. Berkeley offers associate degree programs in addition to undergraduate and graduate degree programs, and this intrigued her.

“Prior to Berkeley, I only worked in schools offering bachelor’s degrees. I enjoyed working with students in associate degree programs. They’re either returning to school and have families, or they’re gaining additional knowledge for their career. I enjoyed being part of the discussions with students about taking the next steps in their lives, whether they would transfer for a bachelor’s degree or change jobs. It was new to me, and something I really enjoyed,” she explained.

A strong sense of community

At that point, Henderson Matthews knew she wanted to work at a college or university that offered associate degree programs.

“My husband started working at U-M in fall 2020. It was online at the time because of the pandemic,” she said. “Knowing we were going to move to Michigan, I looked into schools in the area that offered associate degrees. HFC stood out to me, hearing the stories shared by its students. I also talked with faculty. The College has a strong sense of community, and that really drew me in. It was definitely the right fit and the right choice. My husband told some of his colleagues at U-M that I was working at HFC. Several of them said it was a great school with a strong community feel. It was nice to hear that. It only reaffirms this was the right choice. Even in the short time I’ve been here, I can definitely feel that.”

"We’re so excited to welcome Courtney to our HFC family. Her academic and teaching experience span a lot of different branches on the 'English tree,' which benefits her students and our colleagues alike," said HFC English Instructor Angela Hathikhanavala. "When you meet her, be sure to ask about her travels — Courtney has been all over the world, and now she’s getting to know her new hometown here in Michigan. Welcome!"

Helping students realize their full potential

This semester, Henderson Matthews is teaching the following courses at HFC:

  • ENG 094: Accelerated Learning Program (ALP) – Reading and Writing
  • ENG 131: Introduction to College Writing
  • ENG 132: College Writing and Research

“I would like to get more involved in the Writing Center and positively impact students,” said Henderson. “I’ve been speaking to Dr. Kalvin DaRonne Harvell, faculty advisor of the Black Male and QUEENS Focus Group. I want get involved with the Focus Group as well. I’m really excited about the work they’re doing over there. Overall, I want to be a resource and support for students. I love helping students see their full potential and take steps toward reaching it.”