by Cindy Breme

Kyvory Henderson ’12 rarely comes up short in anything. At 6-foot-3, his impressive stature is matched by his academic and personal achievements. In his years playing defensive end for the Leopards, his class remains one of the only in school history to never beat Lehigh on the gridiron during his four years on the team. Consider that, however, just an aberration.

Henderson (center) played football for Lafayette as a defensive end. The team is on the field and in uniform. They are huddled around a coach.

Henderson (center) played football for Lafayette as a defensive end.

Born in southern Germany where his father was stationed as an army officer during Desert Storm, Henderson moved frequently as a child, following his father’s many military assignments. Eventually his family settled in the Baltimore area, where he embarked on a journey that would shape him into the accomplished professional he is today.

With a passion for engineering and a prowess for athletics, Henderson excelled both in the classroom and on the football field. As a student-athlete at North County High School in Glen Burnie, Md., Henderson graduated with a 4.0 GPA and was awarded All-County status as a football player. With aspirations to attend an Ivy League college, he was highly recruited, including by Lafayette, to play football. When he suffered a devastating injury during his senior year of high school, tearing his ACL while forming the wedge in a kickoff return, he disappointingly saw most of his college football opportunities disappear.

Pivoting his focus primarily to academics, Henderson was awarded a scholarship through the prestigious Posse Scholars program. Posse, a national nonprofit organization, was founded in 1989 on the belief that a small, diverse group of talented students—a “posse”—carefully selected and trained, can serve as a catalyst for individual and community development. This merit and academic-based scholarship aims to provide a sense of community to minority students and to train the leaders of tomorrow. Henderson describes the program as “a community within a community.”

“I was drawn to Lafayette for its strong academic reputation, small class size, as well as its participation in the Posse program,” Henderson explains. “After my surgery, I resumed talks with Lafayette football coaches who invited me to walk on.” Henderson went on to play for Lafayette, where he thrived in a successful career as a defensive end for the Leopards, earning numerous accolades and awards.  

Reflecting on his college experience, Henderson describes it as the most challenging four years of his life. If balancing a rigorous academic course load as an engineering studies major and his Posse Scholar duties was not enough, his commitment to the football team typically required 10-15 hours per week of practice time plus travel for away games.

Overcoming these challenges required immense dedication and discipline, as well as a little help here and there. For that, Henderson actively sought assistance from study groups and mentors. Henderson credits Prof. Sharon Jones, his engineering mentor, and Posse advisers Prof. Gary Gordon and Prof. Lawrenece Malinconico, as well as Prof. Jennifer Rossman, in being particularly helpful in providing him guidance on how to balance his responsibilities. 

In addition to his professional accomplishments, Henderson’s personal life flourished during his college years. He met his now wife, Tatiana Logan ’13, a Marquis Scholar also attending Lafayette, through mutual friends. As he approached the conclusion of his whirlwind four years on campus, he recalled the sense of relief he felt in the spring of senior year. His course load had slowed down, his football career was behind him. 

“I finally felt like I could take a moment and breathe it all in,” he says. After graduating in 2012, Henderson moved to Charlottesville, Va., to work on his master’s in project management with a specialization in biomechanics, which he obtained from the University of Virginia. This multidisciplinary approach equipped him with a unique skill set, merging engineering expertise with biological principles.

After completing his studies, Henderson’s career took off, eventually landing him on the West Coast, in Seal Beach, Calif. He currently serves as director of business development at Diversified Technical Systems, a leading manufacturer of data acquisition systems and sensors for product and safety testing. He oversees the development and testing of all new products like crash-test dummies and other technologies used to capture critical data. 

Pictured is a crash test dummy sitting in a seat and wearing a helmet. The Warrior Injury Assessment Manikin (WIAMan), the first vertical load assessment crash test dummy designed specifically to improve the safety of military vehicles by Henderson and a team at Diversified Technical Systems.

Pictured is the Warrior Injury Assessment Manikin (WIAMan), the first vertical load assessment crash test dummy designed specifically to improve the safety of military vehicles by Henderson and a team at Diversified Technical Systems.

Drawing upon his college experiences, Henderson credits Lafayette for instilling in him the necessary resilience and adaptability to thrive in the demanding world of engineering. He feels that Lafayette’s hands-on program thoroughly prepared him for his future career, and found that bosses and colleagues he has encountered throughout his career were always familiar with Lafayette’s reputation as having one of the top engineering programs in the country. 

Through Posse and athletics, Henderson found a tight-knit group of friends from the Lafayette community who remain an integral part of his life. Henderson remains deeply connected to his alma mater, as a donor to the Robotics team, of which he was a member, as well as the football team, which he still follows closely. This commitment reflects his desire to give back to the communities that played a crucial role in shaping his formative years. With the partnership of his mother, he started a scholarship at his former high school that is awarded each year to an outstanding student-athlete of color who is looking to pursue a degree in a STEM-related field.

Robert Young ’14, director of intercultural development, worked closely with Henderson during his years at Lafayette, “Kyvory’s personality was just as big as his impact across many spaces on campus; the football field, the classroom, and amongst the Posse community,” Young says. “His efforts to build meaningful relationships to make social impacts didn’t end once he left Lafayette.”

Now residing with Tatiana in Seal Beach, they consider themselves a bicoastal family, frequently traveling back and forth between the coasts for work and to visit family. While someday they hope to add children to the mix, for now they are happily raising two “mischievous” chickens.