Joan Hendricks: Using Anger As A Superpower

Joan Hendricks has blazed a trail in the field of veterinary medicine – starting from when only a small “quota” of women were allowed into vet school, and ultimately serving as the first woman dean of the distinguished School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

In this candid and heartfelt conversation, Joan shares how she got the courage to lead despite the obstacles in her path, including self-sabotage. And she reveals how anger has fueled her passion and drive – inviting us all to consider how we can harness the power of anger as a superpower. Now retired, Joan also reminds us of the importance of seeking joy and rocking our own unique brand of weird. Do not miss this empowering, eye-opening, and often funny interview with a true pioneer!

Listen on Apple Podcast

Listen on Spotify

In this episode you’ll hear:

  • [3:15] Quotas, “tokes,” and Title IX: When women weren’t welcome in veterinary medicine  
  • [7:24] On being an “army brat” and crucial fatherly support
  • [11:20] Constructive rage and the catalyzing power of being underestimated 
  • [13:46] How allies helped amplify Joan’s voice 
  • [16:45] Why Joan initially avoided becoming the first woman dean at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine 
  • [23:40] Why women are dominating veterinary medicine today 
  • [27:32] Balancing family and career with the help of a supportive partner 
  • [29:34] Making a “joy list”
  • [32:29] Joan’s one tip to rock it  

Links from this episode: 

She Rocked It is a media and mentorship platform where creative, courageous women rock it together. We are eager to learn from, listen to, and lift one another up — driven by the belief that women’s voices are essential. On our podcast and Instagram Live interview series, She Rocked It host/founder and creative entrepreneur Karen Gross gets trailblazing women leaders, creatives, and entrepreneurs to reveal how they rock it – and their insights may surprise you. Their behind-the-scenes stories, best-kept secrets to success, and actionable tips are sure to inspire the rockstar in all of us! 

Please subscribe and leave a review! 

Joan Hendricks Interview Transcript

KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT:  It’s almost like can rage or anger or be constructive be productive. Yeah, you know?

JOAN HENDRICKS: Yes it can. And being annoying is a really great quality.

INTRO: Hey Rockstar, thanks for tuning into the She Rocked It podcast. I’m your host, Karen Gross. And I could not be more excited to share this conversation with you because I am speaking with a true pioneer, Joan Hendricks. Joan was the first woman dean of the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine. And if you’re an animal lover like me, you know that Penn Vet is one of the top vet schools in the country if not in the world. And Joan was the first woman dean at the school. She also served on the faculty of the School for over 20 years. And she was the first woman named to an endowed professorship at the school. And this was not an easy journey. When Joan entered the field, there was actually a limit to the number of women even allowed to apply to that school. So you’re going to hear so much in this conversation about how Joan blazed a trail. And interestingly, how she used anger as fuel for her fire and for her passion for veterinary medicine. So yes, I know as women we’re often taught to kind of tame our anger. But is there a way that it can be constructive? I think you’re going to learn something about that in this conversation. Oh, and before I let you hear from Joan, I have to say a special thank you to Ashley Berke, who was featured in season one of our podcast and who originally introduced me to Joan Hendricks, and gave me the opportunity to work with her as a communications consultant at Penn that it was a true honor. And it was so great to reunite with Joan again for this special conversation. So without further ado, let’s hear how Joan Hendricks use anger as her superpower to rock it.

KAREN GROSS/ SHE ROCKED IT: I am almost speechless, because today, here on the She Rocked It podcast. I am speaking with one of my she-roes, meaning women woman heroes who I have had the great honor of also getting to collaborate with in my communications career. She is a pioneer a true pioneer in the field of veterinary medicine. Welcome to the She Rocked It podcast. I still want to call you Dean, Joan Hendricks.

JOAN HENDRICKS: That’s great, as long as I don’t honestly as long as long as there’s no “Mrs.” In there. I am a Mrs. But that’s the only title I’m not fond of. But Joan is good one. Joan works.

KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: I’m honored, Joan, to see you again. We had the great pleasure of getting to know one another a couple a number of years back when you were the Dean of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, aka Penn Vet, we’ll call it Penn Vet for short. And you had a very long career at Penn Vet, right? Almost some 20 years is that right? Before? 


KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: And you know, Joan, we’ve talked about this. And we talked about this and some of the things that we had worked on together over the years about, you know, at the time as a woman, this was not a path that had been laid out quite easily for you. And I know one thing we talked about, even with the vet schools, when you really got into that field, I remember that you talked about there was quote quotas of women like you, right? You could only allow a certain very small number into each class. Tell us a little bit.

JOAN HENDRICKS: It was so it’s so it’s so funny, because for the general audience fit schools are kind of struggling to have more than about 15 to 20% men now. And so, and that’s been the case for quite a while but when I was applying before Title Nine in 1972, which was not just about sports, it was actually about equal opportunities for women in higher education in yeah in higher education. So it became illegal to discriminate against women in ‘72 and I was applying in ‘73, ‘74. Penn was more advanced than other schools and had started allowing more women to enter than most schools. But there were schools in the 1950s, there was an article in the official magazine of the Veterinary Medical Association, where there’d been a meeting of the Deans and they were talking about the problem of women applying and how terrible it was. 


JOAN HENDRICKS: And the conclusion, I think I have this verbatim was, some schools forbid them, all schools discourage them. 


JOAN HENDRICKS: That was in the ‘50s.

KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: I’m, goosebumps. This is the ‘50s. This isn’t like the eighteen hundreds, like—

JOAN HENDRICKS: So Penn had a quota. And they called the they call the female students, “the tokes,” for the tokens, oh, my gosh, and they had a quota of like two to six. And those people there’s I think you edited the bellwether of the best schools magazine, with the what I consider the true pioneers, the women’s who applied when when people really hated that the woman, women weren’t supposed to be vets. But in the early ‘60s, Penn had a couple of people, men, because that’s who was on the faculty, who just said, “That’s ridiculous. We’re going to admit women in the proportion that they apply.” And it started opening up a little but when I applied, it was still an overwhelmingly male profession. And as as it happened, I had just come from Yale, which also didn’t want to admit women but did. So when I started at Yale, it was nine to one men to women. And when I started in vet school, it was, I don’t know, the profession was overwhelmingly male. I mean, maybe four to four to one kind of thing. And there were a lot of I had a not a classmate, but somebody who was younger than me, who when she graduated and went into a dairy practice, somebody came out with a rifle and drove her off their property. 

KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: Oh, my goodness, 

JOAN HENDRICKS: Yeah. And in, in my, in my time when I was Dean, so in the last two decades, we had a, we have a really great swine program. And you know, not not, not figuratively speaking, but real pigs and women, because most of our students are women, you know, would specialize in that area. And at least one time, they were told, “we just can’t hire women, because the other workers won’t respect them,” which is a load of crap. And I know I also you know, people were asked if they were going to get pregnant when they applied for jobs, and it was a lot of things that you can’t won’t believe. So that is now flipped. So everyone’s kind of wringing their hands about “oh, no, there’s no men.” I’m like, “Hey, for like, 1000s of years, give us give us a couple decades here. We’ll, we’ll we’ll come back around. It’s gonna be okay.”

KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT:  So much to unpack there. Why don’t you even start about all of it? We talk about this here on She Rocked It about what gives women the courage to step into their strength, their voice, their path, you know, and you clearly had a lot of courage. Along with the other “tokes”, you might say to like, be among that small group it takes it takes up some serious guts, you know, to stand up and be in a room that’s nine to one, right and be the one so what what do you think gave you that courage to follow your calling in the veterinary field? 

JOAN HENDRICKS: I’m gonna say first my parents and the way I was raised, so I found a lot of other military brat women, whose dads just presumed they could do it. And remember the military integrated racially very early it took a while to integrate gender-wise, but you know, it’s, there’s just an attitude. So, you’ll sounds like I’m preaching about the military, but there’s just what I experienced there, my dad, they’re just like, “can you do the job or not?” And if not, why not? And get going. And, you know, just and I have to say, I encountered that in my mentors throughout my career, and they were mostly men, because that was always the world I was moving into, and just want to give them credit for, you know, I’d be pregnant and they’d be like, “Well, can you do this in a month?” And I’d be like, “Well, I think I’m gonna have a newborn baby.” And they go, “oh, yeah, that’s right.” You know, it’s just kind of moving forward. So anyway, my dad was just like, “of course, you can do it,” and my mom in a different way. A couple things. One is she could not stand the role of housekeeper, which is what she was, homemaker, housekeeper. She adored my dad, I think she had a lot of fun with us. She couldn’t stand that female role. And I think that was kind of helpful and made her mad all the time a little bit, I now think, and being mad at not being able to do stuff is is in me. And it’s not overpowering, but things tick me off. And the idea that I would be told I couldn’t do something I couldn’t even try. That just was ridiculous concept. So, and if you kind of said, “you’re not allowed in here, then I’d be like, well, that’s where I’m going.” And I would say pretty much that’s why I applied to Yale. I knew it was one of the Ivys, I didn’t know them apart. I wasn’t, my my family roots are in California. I didn’t know anything about Ivys. But I knew that something some one of the schools had lowered its barrier. So I applied to Harvard. And they sent me back an application to Radcliffe because they had not admitted women. And I didn’t know what Radcliffe was. So I threw it in the trash. And figured out it should be Yale. So anyway, I just the idea that I wasn’t welcome made me mad. And I actually was invited. I lived in Carlisle, in small town, Pennsylvania at the time. And they had a, like Yale alumni “Welcome for the admitted students.” And they held it in a club that didn’t admit women. 


JOAN HENDRICKS: So my dad and I drove, you know, with like, full of delight and great, you know, we’re thrilled I’m being honored. And so we pull into this club, and they go, “uh oh,” and we just sat there. And this is I would love to have a video because I have a hunch my dad’s presence was worrying to them. But there was no way we were not going anywhere. So anyway, then they figured out that they were going to let me in. It just never occurred to them there’d be a female admitted, Right? 


JOAN HENDRICKS: Isn’t that incredible?

KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: It’s it’s, it’s so stunning. And I love that your dad was supportive. It sounds like… 

JOAN HENDRICKS: Yeah, yeah. It just never occurred to him, anything else? I mean, it wasn’t like defiance, it was just like, “Well, that was that stupid.” Of course you would, if you want to do it, do it. Yeah. And if you know, you want to do it, and you can. So that was, Yeah, I think I think he he, he was enormous. And as I say my mom in an interesting way, the idea of being a homemaker, happy homemaker. Never was liked she was she was a homemaker. But she was, she did not like it.

KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: And tell us a little more about you know, kind of your journey onward. Because it’s not like you get in and your everything is coasting along. I mean, it’s raising your voice in a classroom where you have to, perhaps work doubly hard. I mean, how did that feel, but because you obviously we know where you ended up, but I’m sure the path along the way was a lot of you know, slashing through the forest, or making that trail for yourself.

JOAN HENDRICKS: Being told no was like a red flag. I mean, you know, like to a bull, not not a red flag. Like don’t do it.

KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: I was gonna say I was like a green light actually. Like, let’s go here. I love that. I love that almost being fueled by a little bit of anger is the word but a little bit, I’m going to prove it to you that I, you know, cuz I think that’s important to recognize, because I think sometimes women kind of tamp down on.

JOAN HENDRICKS: Yeah, I actually had a student asked me like, you know, “what do you do if you’re worried people won’t like you?” And I couldn’t even understand the question. Like, they’re not gonna like you, you’re taking their stuff. You know, you’re encroaching on an area that we’re, you know, depends on the people, right? The world changes. And there’s a lot of people who are really welcoming now.

KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: It’s almost like can rage or anger or be constructive, be productive?

JOAN HENDRICKS: Yeah. Yes, it can. And being annoying is a really great quality. And I also learned, and you know, this got old pretty quickly, but being underestimated is also. You can you can flip it and make it a superpower. Like, if people underestimate you, and then you win. They don’t know where you came from, you know, and so I like to win. I don’t, I always say I don’t like to compete at all. But if there’s a competition, I don’t want to lose, so that would mean winning.

KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: You are firing me up. Listeners, are you fired up right now listening to Joan Hendricks? Because I’m just ready to take on so many things right now. Just, and embrace those feelings.

JOAN HENDRICKS:  And you know, if people are annoyed by you, that’s probably a good thing. You know, at least they’re, not ignoring. 

INTERSTITIAL: Hey Rockstar, if you’re inspired by this conversation, and you’re ready to rock your most creative, courageous life, we have a program for you. Head over to our website, To learn about our Rock-It Launcher group mentorship program, which is designed to help you transform your creativity into a career that rocks. Head over there and apply today. 

JOAN HENDRICKS: I did get a lot of fun allies to and this is something that younger women have, you know, brought to my attention. It’s a formal process. You know, it’s a formal strategy. You get allies and allies and men and women, but of course, again, it was usually men. You know, that whole thing where you’re sitting on the table and you say something, and then a guy says it, and all of a sudden everyone goes, “Oh, what a great idea.” And I had allies who would go, “that is a good idea. And Joan said it first.” You know, or they go, “Oh, Joan, could you elaborate on that idea you just had that we all want to hear more about” and there’s just nothing like it. I mean, I had great folks who would, you know, help lift me up? 

KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: You know, Joan, how does that happen? Because, you know, you, you started to really develop a niche in sleep disorders. Right?


KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: And a field of thought leadership. So tell us a little bit about how that journey progressed, and how you found kind of allies, mentors, men, in many cases along the way, who would help to further you know, and amplify your voice? 

JOAN HENDRICKS: Well, I think you first you have to perform, you know, you have to be good at stuff in a way that that’s gives you power, because people like to get things done usually. And especially so I was I wanted to do neuroscience, and I didn’t really know exactly what I wanted to do. I was really interested in understanding the biological reasons that women were different from men. But that’s not where I wound up. I mean, not scientifically. And the best science being done in in the brain in in the vet school was being done by Adrian Morrison who studied sleep. And he was just a really great promoter. And I think so I’ve belatedly been told by a life coach, a good way to go into any interaction is, quote, presume good intentions, assume good intentions. And I think I’ve mostly naturally did that. Because mostly people were wonderful. And I think that’s a great place to start you need to be aware of sometimes that’s not what’s happening. And when you get evidence to the contrary, you need to change your behavior a little bit. It is when I encountered in Adrian Morrison. And then Richard Davies, who was a lovely respiratory physiologist. So I eventually started studying sleep apnea, because English Bulldogs have sleep apnea, was a brand new, newly discovered ancient disorder, but newly discovered and finding out that Bulldogs had it gave me kind of a special way that I could use my veterinary training, together with my interests in helping people. And bulldogs are really, really cute, by the way.

KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: I’m also curious about the moment where you learned or applied, I don’t know exactly how this works, but like to be the first woman Dean of this prestigious veterinary school, like how did that happen? And what was that moment like when you learn that this could be possible for you?

JOAN HENDRICKS:  Sorry to keep talking over you, you’re too exciting. 

KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: I’m so excited!

JOAN HENDRICKS: I kind of love this story. So I had become aware more and more women in veterinary medicine, you know, that’s great. And if you walk by a room, and it was full of women, they were all people working their heads off. And if you walk by room, it was full of men, it was the decision-makers. And I was sort of like, “okay, I hate that.” And I’m gonna say in general on the campus, again, modifying a little bit, but especially in the medical school in the vet school, you know, great, great pioneer people pictures on the wall portraits, men, men, men, men, men. And I was like, “that’s wrong.” So when the Deanship… Well, I should say an almost secret thing is— I took a sabbatical in the mid-’90s. And I changed my scientific focus. And I kind of stepped back from bunch of administrative leadership stuff I was doing, and I really focused on the science and I developed the fruit fly as the first widely accepted invertebrate model of sleep. And that’s a whole really happy thing. It was great. And for the first time, I was focusing only on one thing, because I’d always done teaching and research and clinics. And so my husband—

KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: And that’s a bold move to just to kind of make a decision to step into something that you really want to focus on, shed some other things.

JOAN HENDRICKS: If you want to talk about being afraid that was the scariest thing I ever did. It just was because, I was in, the people I worked with, later got the Nobel Prize. So I was at a level that I you know that I could be on the metaphorical tennis court with these people and get one one ball back, that I can play on that court at all was was breathtaking. And I was not at that level. But I I saw what it looked like. so at one point when I was really focusing on the science and not doing anything else because I’d gotten federal funding that enabled me to step back. My husband walked by I was hanging out on the porch, we’re just having a leisurely whatever reading or something and he goes, “you’re bored.” And I was like,”I’m not.” He said, “You need to be Dean.” And then he just kept on walking. And we never talked about it. 

KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: Okay, husband! 

JOAN HENDRICKS: Yeah. And so this was years before the Deanship opened. So the weekend that it was a.. obviously, I remember this rather well, it was a Thanksgiving weekend that then-Dean Alan Kelly said, “you know, I’m, I’m stepping back, I’m not, I’m not finishing out my term completely.” And I came into work— And these were the old days where you didn’t have access to your email at home. And my inbox was full.

KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: That sounds nice. 

JOAN HENDRICKS: Uh, yeah, it was, I highly recommend it. So my inbox was full thing saying, “Hey, you’re gonna be the next Dean.” And I was like, “No.” And, you know, obviously, at some level, I must have had the thought because this was being said, but I was like, “Okay, I’m gonna go find a woman, because I’m damned if the next Dean of the school is gonna be a man.” So I went around looking for women who could do it. And several of the people that I found— 

KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: Why was it a no for you?

JOAN HENDRICKS: I just didn’t even I just didn’t, it just didn’t seem appropriate. I’ll get to that, I think, okay, one of the things that holds women back even when they’re as kind of I don’t know, energetic and focused as I was, and I didn’t like if somebody said, “you can’t be Dean”, then I probably would have been, “Well, damn you, I’m gonna.” But nobody was saying that. I it was something in me. So I identified several people. And in fact, several of them either immediately or soon after, became Deans of various vet schools. And they may or may not have been considered at our school, I don’t really know. But somewhere along the line, something came up where I was saying to other people, “I don’t understand why women don’t step up.” And then I was like, Oh, dear, look in the mirror kid. This is really, this is really stupid. Don’t, you can’t be that you’re talking to yourself here. And I almost literally was like, “go apply for this go, you know, go let them know, you’re interested,” which is sort of the way this goes. And so I did. And it was, you know, it was a pretty competitive process. And I think I kind of assumed because I was well-known within the vet school, that was a huge advantage. And I’m not sure, having seen a lot of searches since then. I think it can be a disadvantage because people know you in the role you’re in, they don’t imagine you in a different role. And I’ve always been careful not to— I tried not to be to be pushy and aggressive and offend people, even though it doesn’t bother me if you know. So I have all that mix that women have, right? So I wasn’t going to be like, “hey, vote for me for Dean,” which isn’t the way it works anyway. But I was a little I think I was a little too laid back. And it was hard. I think initially, it was hard to envision me in the role. But I ended up with a role.

KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: It is a dance. It is what all these tensions, even like you said, for someone who had been rather confident and kind of stick to the, like when when it was placed in front of you some resistance, some impostor syndrome, perhaps, “Oh, me?” And I feel the same way, Joan, about myself.

JOAN HENDRICKS: I never doubted that I could do the job. It wasn’t. And even when it was, it was kind of an impossible job at times. I do want to say even where I expected some kind of pushback from being female, which was the legislature in Harrisburg, which is, you know, the definition of Pennsylvania is we’re a whole lot of rural areas and a few urban areas, and I just expect— and the legislature is overwhelmingly male, and that’s, that’s a place women need to get in there. All the state legislatures. 


JOAN HENDRICKS: But people didn’t even do a double take. If they did it was so subtle I couldn’t tell. I kind of expected some stuff about “oh, it’s a woman, oh, how weird.” And I got none of that. From the dairy farmers to the same kinds of people who brought a shotgun on for my predecessor, other women they were, everybody was great.

KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: And during your career, and I imagine in those years as Dean, you saw the profession kind of make a total flip to right? We’re now like you said before, it’s largely women who are becoming veterinarians. Tell us a little bit about that phenomenon. From your perspective. What’s that? What’s going on there?

JOAN HENDRICKS: Well, I think that in anywhere that there’s higher education and there are not barriers, women are predominating. Undergraduate, medical schools, start going to be predominant in law law school, still not in engineering in a few of those areas. But and I think, I’d say this is utter speculation, but I think I think women are really good at all that stuff. And women are good, you know, their brains. And I think everybody likes to solve puzzles. But I think women especially I don’t really fall for the women are the only nurturers kind of thing. But I do think there’s a bond between women and children and women and animals. And if you look around the world, the people who take care of animals, or women, even if the men own them, if you if you when I went to India, for related to Dean stuff and went to some of the rural areas, the women were the ones taking care of the farm animals, and they, if they could get financial compensation from taking care of them, they became the the people who are earn money in the household. So anywhere that you you can, there are studies, women are the caretakers, and that includes animals and women have really great bonds with animals. So I what I think is that women are great scientifically, they’re brave, they don’t cringe from fluids or pain, or you know, I think, and I think as soon as they lowered the barriers, what happened was the natural push from women to be veterinarians, just, you know, they just pushed on through, I think it was always there. And women were veterinarians from when they weren’t allowed to be. So how,, you know, of course, when we’re allowed to be than we are. So that’s what I think I think it just was, I think it’s what’s always been there. And the only reason we weren’t predominant was because men forbid us.

KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: It’s so interesting. And I know, you’ve obviously now become such a role model to this, you know, these future generations? How did that feel for you, you know, how does that feel for you being kind of this, you know, a beacon for this new generation? What, what does that feel like? And are you continuing to stay active in the field, even in retirement or raising your voice in certain ways.

JOAN HENDRICKS: So I, I hope it’s true. Um, one of the things that kept me going when things were hard, so when I had my children and I was still working it that was really, it was painful to leave the children, it was there were times the two weren’t compatible. I mean, I did it  just was really hard. And I thought, “Well, I’m not going to be the one who quit.” So I’m going to be the one that continues, and I’ll be a role model that was really, really important. And it was very conscious. Sometimes I think you run into the trap of people thinking you’re a superhero and it and it’s not, you know, it’s neither impossibly hard. Nor are you a superhero, is actually something you can do. You just need to persist. Take a deep breath, take care of yourself. Don’t be with people that don’t support you. I mean, you may have been able to tell my husband is unbelievable.

KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: Well, I was gonna ask you about that, he prophetically predicted that you needed to be Dean before you did. I you know, without being you know women having a conversation about the persona,l because sometimes it’s like, you know, “let’s talk about families.”  And but but it’s, it’s it’s so important. 

JOAN HENDRICKS: It’s so important. 

KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: And we’ve talked about this, we talked about this, I think candidly, in the years we work together about, you know, women want to know, how did you balance your personal life with your professional life and having a partner who’s supportive. I mean, that’s not always the case. So tell us a little more about that.

JOAN HENDRICKS: Well, I got I, you know, I got lucky or at least I never was interested in anybody who wasn’t supportive. I’m not sure how it happened. But he thought it was really important. And it at one point, when we were early on, when we were married, he said, “oh, I always wanted you to work, but it didn’t occur to me, there’d be no one at home.” You know, like no one else. And he just stepped up. He did the cleaning. He did. I shouldn’t use past tense, he does the cleaning. He does the cooking, he does the shopping. He does all the yard work. He does most of the car maintenance like I have contributions, but sometimes they’re hard to discover.

KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: Was that something that you and he kind of like, talked about him doing? Or was he just like, I’m just doing this? Because Joan is on her path?

JOAN HENDRICKS: Yeah, sort of both. I mean, he he always said “I’ll take care of the children” and there’s a limit to that. And I he actually wasn’t comfortable with really little kids and I was, so I basically did, I did the child care or arranged the child care was my my job until they were about six or seven. Once they could read and talk and do sports teams, he was he was in charge. And you know, it was all good. And we had other like, I’m the disciplinarian, he’s the one who gives them whatever they want. I mean, other other divisions. We also we worked out how to how to fight politely. You know, how to how to disagree. And we do it infrequently when neither of us likes it, but we definitely aired our differences when when we needed to. But with courtesy and I, that sounds simple, and it sort of is, but it’s hard to be courteous when you’re really mad.

KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: And you both you met when when you were in vet school? Is that right?

JOAN HENDRICKS: Freshman year of college? 

KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: Oh, yeah. And how many years married now?

JOAN HENDRICKS: We are 48. We got married the year as I applied to vet school. 

KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: Before I let you go, I just want to hear a little more about your passions that you’re pursuing now that you’re retired.  know you have a creative streak. And not to say that veterinary medicine isn’t creative, because I think that it’s so creative, and so many ways. And creating a career as you have is such a powerful creative act in itself. But tell me a little more of that, because I know you have a violin somewhere floating in the background in your office right now. Tell us a little bit about your—

JOAN HENDRICKS: So I made a list of stuff like what what might I really want to throw myself into and what might you know, maybe I’d want to dance maybe I’d want to do martial art. These are all things I considered. Maybe I want to do martial arts. Maybe my—

KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: I love that you made this list, the joy list, does it have a title?

JOAN HENDRICKS: That is that is, Joan’s Joys. I thought maybe I’d want to ride horses like I love them but I had never ridden them much. Maybe yoga, and maybe the violin. So I tried all of those, I couldn’t find a martial arts place that took people over seven years old or so. So that was that was not great. But the two little granddaughters were doing Suzuki violin. And my granddad was a violinist, that’s actually was his profession. And I’d never even touched a violin. And so I watched the little girls and I just got my set of what I want for Christmas that then four year old was starting, we went to this really great violin store and I just turned to my husband, I said “I want a violin for Christmas. So I’m leaving the room and you can get me one.” And it’s really like that hard, I can’t even tell you. And I also found a great yoga teacher I went to a couple different ones and and have enjoyed that tremendously. So those are things that are sort of, you know, allowing and the little girls who are now they were four and eight now they’re eight and 11, they are suitable to absorbing a lot of time and attention. And then my, I should mention also I have a son with two grandsons in in Chicago. So that’s the whole the whole kielbasa and it has been really fun. And my husband and I are both periodically go like, we are lucky, we are healthy and mentally, as well as good as we’re ever going to be. We’re both functional. And so people keep on keeping on.

KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: So inspiring. All of this, to hear where you’re where you’re at now how you’re truly following your many joys, getting to spend time with your family. It’s wonderful and just reminds all of us that there it’s we can always pivot we can always really pursue our joys with intention. And I always like to conclude these interviews as you know, Koan, because you’ve been following the podcast now which is such an honor. I always ask our guests what’s one tip to rock it that you would like to share with us?

JOAN HENDRICKS: If you’re really interested in something go ahead and be weird, that’s what I’m gonna say, so the negative would be don’t let that bother you that you feel a little weird.

KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: I think weird is absolutely a positive. 

JOAN HENDRICKS: It is a positive.


OUTRO: Thanks so much for tuning in to the She Rocked It podcast. I’m your host Karen Gross. This episode has been produced by Tori Marchiony with audio engineering by Teng Chen. The She Rocked It theme song is by Karen Gross and Tim Motzer. Visit our Instagram page @sherockedit, join the conversation and visit our website To learn about how you can join our community, support our work and attend our live events. Also, you can apply on our website for our Rock-It Launcher group mentorship program. See you there!



Privacy policy | 

terms of Use