The Pitt-Greensburg Alumni Association (PGAA) will present its Volunteer Excellence award to Dijon Henderson ’14 as part of the Alumni Celebration Dinner to be held Saturday, Sept. 30, (cocktails: 5:30 p.m./dinner: 6 p.m.) at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. Registration for the dinner, part of the Blue & Gold Celebration: Homecoming & Families Weekend 2023, is available here.
The PGAA Volunteer Excellence Award was established in 2009 to recognize alumni who volunteer their time to the PGAA and the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. The award honors alumni who have dedicated a significant amount of personal time to attending alumni meetings and events, working on special projects, and contributing to the overall success of both the alumni association and the University it represents.
“As the Pitt Greensburg Alumni Association President, it is my honor to be part of a university that produces the level of impressive distinction, volunteers, and leadership among our winners,” said Michel Keller.
Henderson graduated from Pitt-Greensburg in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. He works as a senior laboratory technician who is involved with the polyethylene research and development team at Shell Polymers Monaca. His prior experience includes working as a laboratory technician with NOVA Chemicals, a quality analyst with Bayer, and a chemist with Mylan. Currently enrolled at Duquesne University, he expects to graduate with a master’s of science degree in chemistry in 2025.
Henderson is a native of California, but calls western Pennsylvania home, having graduated from Pittsburgh’s North Hills High School in 2005.
While a student at Pitt-Greensburg, Henderson was active in Pitt-Greensburg’s chapter of Gamma Sigma Epsilon, the national chemistry honor society; the American Chemical Society; the Student Government Association (as a Senator); and the campus chapter of Habitat for Humanity. He also served as a community assistant in the residence halls.
Henderson, who made his first HFH Alternate Spring Break trip in 2013, has continued his involvement after graduation, volunteering for nine trips—eight as an alumnus--to North Carolina (3 times), South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and Tennessee (2 times). In particular, he has served as an adult van driver on each of those Habitat for Humanity Alternative Spring Break trips. In addition to volunteering with the Pitt-Greensburg HFH chapter, he volunteers with his local chapter.
His nomination notes, “Dijon willingly used vacation time to take time off of work to help transport 20-plus students to southern, out-of-state destinations. . . . His participation as a driver has been invaluable to us, as the University requires drivers to be 25 years old or older. He has always been eager to step in and volunteer for this role each year.”
His nominator notes that since his graduation, Henderson has volunteered an estimated 150 hours, logging nearly 10,000 miles during the HFH trips. Said differently, the eight-day trips cumulatively amount to almost two months away from home and work. More importantly, Henderson helps to promote a sense of camaraderie among the students and other volunteers on the trips. He also is constantly teaching student-volunteers how to navigate the HFH work sites, how to use equipment, and how to develop their construction skills.
As a side note, the nominator noted that Henderson and his wife, Brooke ’18, both participated in HFH as students and described it as a “Habitat love story.” This year, Brooke joined the spring break trip as a volunteer, too.
Henderson’s community service reaches beyond the campus, too. He is an active volunteer with his local church where he helps to distribute food to his community. He participates in Shell’s volunteer days that often include cleaning up trash along the riverways. Since 2019, he also has worked for the Pennsylvania Game Commission as a Deputy Game Warden, a position that is considered volunteer/unpaid since the small per diem doesn’t cover all of the expenses entailed.
“I'm honored,” said Henderson of being selected to receive the Volunteer Excellence Award. “I never expected to get anything in return. I've just been blessed in life, so I've just been doing what I can, where I can, to give back and show my gratitude and help someone else along their way.”
Henderson and his wife stay connected to Pitt-Greensburg through their involvement with the Pitt-Greensburg Alumni Association and its events, including the annual Pittsburgh Pirates tailgate and game.
Founded in 1963, the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg is a publicly assisted, four-year, liberal arts college in southwestern Pennsylvania. Pitt-Greensburg offers 31 baccalaureate degree programs, including new majors in data analytics, nursing, and healthcare management, as well as 31 minors and four certificate programs. With nearly 1,400 students, more than 10,000 alumni, and faculty and staff numbering 260, Pitt-Greensburg provides a vibrant, diverse community that is a dynamic model of a 21st-century liberal arts education. As part of the University of Pittsburgh system, Pitt-Greensburg offers the resources of a world-renowned university combined with the individualized and immersive experiences of a small liberal arts college. Creativity and an entrepreneurial spirit permeate the campus and extend into its many collaborative projects with the Westmoreland County community. Nestled in Pennsylvania’s beautiful Laurel Highlands, the campus is surrounded by the region’s outdoor recreation venues and rich history. It is a five-minute drive from uptown Greensburg and less than an hour’s drive from Pittsburgh.