By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Hendren was surrounded by friends, family, teachers and administrators for a scholarship ceremony celebrating her full-ride to Mississippi College as part of its College of Honors.
“Ever since I was little, I knew I wanted to do something big with my life,” Hendren said. “I’ve wanted the opportunity to go and change the world. Since Kindergarten I’ve known you had to work hard. You don’t get what you won’t by not working hard. You’ve basically got to put in the work.”
The Millington native also raised in Munford was recognized by MCHS for her achievement. Hendren is one of 14 students in the nation selected to by the foundation of Mississippi College to be a part of the program.
While the school placed a spotlight on Hendren, she took the opportunity to share the glory with her peers, teachers, mentors and both sets of grandparents Joe and Patsy Hendren and Dennis and Troyis Blankenship.
But the first photo-op of the ceremony belong to Victoria, her sister Abbi and their parents Holly and Scott.
“There’s a lot it takes in raising a kid to be an adult,” Scott noted. “You have got to have a good solid foundation of family, home. You have a quality home with grandparents who are loving. You have uncles who are loving. Obviously her love for Jesus Christ is strong. She has remain true, not only to herself, but to her thoughts and process of God. He’s helped maintain her path.”
The little girl who earned the prestigious scholarship to Mississippi College faced trials and tribulations growing up with the latest coming in September. Scott was diagnosed with brain cancer.
“When I first found out, it was like my world was falling apart,” Victoria acknowledged. “It was difficult. But we believe God has a plan. He gives His strongest battles to His strongest warriors.
“I think it has helped me to continue to push and work hard,” she continued. “My Dad is pride of me and wants me to continue to work hard. Although he’s sick, I know he wants me to continue and he wants it for me. He might not get to see that. But he wants to see me go as far as he can.”
Scott stood next to his daughter with his smile lighting up the entire library. He put his condition on the backburner to focus on Victoria’s future.
As part of the College of Honors at Mississippi College, Victoria will be a part of a program under the direction of new president Dr. Blake Thompson. She will be meeting with leaders from across the United States and the world.
The students who are chosen for the program exemplify high integrity, intelligence and leadership skills to change the world.
Victoria will have an opportunity to talk to esteemed people in the field of her major English Composition with minors in Sociology and Spanish. Before she attends law school down the line, Victoria will enjoy other benefits from the program like staying in the senior dorms next year, having a special learning facility and international travel.
Taking advantage of all the privileges at Mississippi College was in jeopardy for a moment when Victoria expressed her concerns about her father’s condition.
“It was tough for her too,” Scott recalled. “There’s always life teaching moments as a parent. This was just another example of a life teaching moment. She was like, ‘I don’t think I need to go. I think I need to stay home. I got a full-ride to Memphis. I can go to Law School at Memphis.’
“I told her, ‘There’s nothing wrong with that,’” he continued. “But we still looked at Maryville College in East Tennessee and then Mississippi College. I told her, ‘Naw we don’t jump to conclusions as Christians. We let things go there course and then God will speak through that course. Then the right answer will come.”
Holly said the right answer has been coming to fruition since Victoria was 18 months old.
“She would have her word of week like amazing or spectacular,” she said. “She knew what those words meant. She would speak in full sentences.
“She was reading books before she was 2,” Holly added. “And when she was in third grade at Munford, the gifted teacher called us in. ‘You don’t understand what you have in her. She’s someone special. With her brain that she has and the ability with her social aspects and attitude, this is very rare.’”
Victoria is the typical teen at MCHS looking forward to prom, participating in drama and shining in FCCLA. The member of the Beta Club and National Honors Society also spends a lot of time at Millington First Baptist Church.
She noted Millington, Munford and her church have paved the way to her achievement.
“Each section has a different part,” Victoria said. “Munford was my upbringing. They were there for my school. They pushed me in my younger years to work hard. My church has always been a big supporter. They helped me with my leadership positions. That’s where I work. Having a great youth pastor and friends who have stayed with me along the way have helped me grow spiritually. My spirituality is very important to me.
“As for Millington, it’s my home,” she continued. “I have great assistant principals who have always believed in me. I have great teachers who believe in me like Mrs. Guy and Ms. Watkins. I have great friends who have loved on me and supported me in my decisions.”
Scott and Holly also supported their daughter in her decision to accept the scholarship to Mississippi College. Victoria said seeing her parents’ faith on full display since September inspired her to take the leap to the Magnolia State.
“Dad has been a warrior,” she said. “I’ve never heard him doubt about what’s going on. Dad and my Mom are trying to keep it very normal for us as a family.
“Deal with his diagnosis and still support us a family has taught me I can deal with a lot more than I think I can,” Victoria added. “It has shown me to continue to grow and push myself like they’ve pushed themselves to take care of us and be there for me.”
Scott said his daughter has blessed him with her love and steadfast approach toward reaching her dreams. He was glad to give her another lesson about loving God when times are tough.
“It was an opportunity for her to learn that her parents are staying the course and have faith,” he said. “And she has to do the same in the next course of her life.
“She’s hopefully been raised and has learned not just from parents,” Scott continued. “She’s learned from her teachers, mentors from church and other who have taken time to instruct and teach her at church. It’s all of that combined. She is willing to represent everybody well.”
Scott said everyone in the room celebrating with his daughter’s milestone will get the proper recognition from Victoria now and in the future.
“She’s not going to say, ‘Me, me, me,’” he said. “She will represent others well. That’s why I think she was offered this Honors College scholarship to represent her president and college at future talks across the world. They’ll know the way she talks and the way she acts that she’s going to be a good representative.”
Holly said her daughter will also represent the Higher Power on the roads she takes in the future. And all she has endured in the past 6 months will make her a better, stronger Christian.
“It’s definitely a testament to God, He gave us the strength, the faith and the encouragement we needed,” she said. “It can only come from Him.”
Victoria said God’s latest gift to her will give her a chance to live up to one of her favorite words from her youth.
“I don’t really know what the future holds,” she concluded. “But I do know it’s going to be something amazing. Something special as long as I continue to work hard, stay dedicated and push myself.”