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Alumni Spotlight: Terri Hancock

For our 35th anniversary, we’ll be sharing the stories of 35 alumni showcasing the leaders they are today and how 21st Century Leaders inspired and impacted their journey. Alumni will represent the 3.5 decades since our founding in 1989 – the 1990s, 2000s, 2010s, and 2020s. Take a read and be inspired!

35th Anniversary Alumni Spotlight

90’s Decade
Name: Terri Hancock

H.S. Grad Year: Class of 1997
High School: Lovejoy High School
College: Kennesaw State University; Valdosta State University
Current Role: Engineering Teacher, Cherokee County Schools

How has your career unfolded and how did participating in 21CL help prepare you for your next steps going to college, taking on a new leadership role in community/college and after?

My parents were from large families in a small town. They only had a high school education, but they worked hard as entrepreneurs and encouraged me to be adventurous in life and try new things. I was invited to apply for 21st Century Leaders by Bob Watson. I had no clue what I signed up for, but it highly impacted my life.

21CL taught me valuable leadership skills such as teambuilding, interviewing, business development, and most importantly networking skills. Those skills were essential in securing scholarships to attend college and obtaining my first teaching job when the market was over saturated. Since college I have taught 1st grade, 2nd grade, K-5th grade Technology, and High School Engineering. I also took a short break from teaching to serve as the Executive Director of the Georgia Technology Student Association. I was fortunate to receive such valuable leadership skills while in high school and have made it my career to give back.

What’s your memorable or ‘aha’ moment during your time at 21CL? (Particular program, meeting a professional and diverse peer, speaking in public for the first time, etc.)

I was blessed to attend the 21st Century Leader camp for multiple years and I have so many special memories. The corporate visits to Coke for leadership development from their top leaders, the tour of Turner Broadcasting, and the mock interviews at BellSouth were definitely impressionable. However, the weeklong camp experience with other teens from diverse backgrounds was the most impactful experience of my life. My favorite memories were the teambuilding exercises, nightly games on the lawn or in the game and my roommates teaching me how to dance. The entire experience at 21st Century Leaders impacted my life.

Did 21CL assist you in developing a leadership style that makes you an effective leader? If so, how? 

21CL built my confidence to try new things and not limit myself. I was the first in my family to graduate college with a bachelor’s degree and later a master’s degree. My parents instilled in my core values of giving, but 21CL prepared me to explore new possibilities and new methods to do so.

Why do you believe programs like 21CL are important? And what advice would you give to a current or future student?

21CL provides students with leadership, business, and soft skills that you do not learn in school. The experience provides students with real-life experiences that can be applied to many aspects of their adult life. Students who attend 21CL should embrace the experience and get engaged with other students who are involved. Step away from the technology and develop your leadership skills, you will not regret it.

Share the inspiration!