Paul College Unmasked: Debbie Hensley

Executive Assistant to the Dean

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Debbie Hensley

Unmasked: The stories behind staff and faculty at Paul College
Deborah Hensley | Executive Assistant to the Dean

Debbie is a left-handed insomniac who is always happier when she’s busy, even if you hear her complaining about it. She loves to sing, and even made an album with her gospel choir when she was young. Debbie always follows the rules–unless they don’t make sense. She has a strong sense of right and wrong, and always tries to do her best. But she also owns up if she’s made a mistake, living by a personal adaption of a popular saying: “Don’t wait for the shoe to drop. Just toss it.” She is an avid enjoyer of ice cream.

Life has taken Debbie from Michigan -> California -> Oregon -> Virginia -> New Hampshire, where she lives with her husband Jim and does a lot of hiking. They’re currently in the middle of building a home.

When she was little, Debbie wanted to be a movie star. While she never starred in a film, she acted in a lot of plays, and was once on Wheel of Fortune! She didn’t have a cellphone until she was 40. The first time Debbie ever used a computer was after her kids were grown, when she took a job working for a lawyer. He co-owned the building with a labor union and represented timber workers. Debbie did a lot of work for the leader of their workers' council and ran huge convention center events in Nevada.

Eventually, Debbie headed to Virginia to work for a friend’s insurance company as a salesperson. While she was good at it (probably no surprise to those who know her), she didn’t enjoy it. So she started working for the Fairfax County School Board instead, and truly loved it there. She met her now-husband, got married, and came to NH because this is where he’s always wanted to retire.

Joining Paul College was pure fate: Debbie started working in the Dean’s Office through a temp agency job that quickly evolved into a full-time position. She and Dean Merrill-Sands discovered they were a “golden combination.”

“I trust her so much. I go to her for advice on misunderstandings, and she’s my biggest advocate,” Debbie said. “We have a great working relationship and I consider her my friend.”

Her greatest advice: if something doesn’t seem right in your life, check it out. Don’t cover it up. Go to a friend that will speak truth to you and listen. That truth might be something you need to fix. And don’t just look for the answer you’re looking for–learn to embrace the hard stuff.

She has two children, two stepchildren, and five grandchildren. The oldest grandchild is 22, and she honestly doesn’t know how that happened. A self-proclaimed extrovert, Debbie likes to walk into a room and make it clear, “I’m here!” So she’s the perfect person to launch this new series.

Hopefully the next time you see Debbie, you’ll feel like you know her a little bit better. And if you know someone who you think would make a great feature, nominate them by e-mailing micky.bedell@unh.edu!