Becoming a mom changed Kara Johnson’s outlook on life. At the time of her daughter’s birth, having a career wasn’t a priority. Her daughter was born two months early and spent a month in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). The first two years of her daughter’s life were riddled with appointments in physical therapy, and she was required to wear a STAR band helmet and ankle braces to help with development. Kara was a stay-at-home mom and made sure her daughter received the care she needed. Her daughter, now healthy, shows no signs of being a premature baby. However, her family had to deal with financial challenges after Kara’s fiancé was laid off from his job of 4 years. This changed everything for Kara and her family because finding a decent paying job in Sanford, NC to support a family of 3 was very difficult for her. As her daughter entering preschool, Kara decided it was time for her to go back to school.
Kara wanted to give her daughter the best life possible to ensure that her family would not struggle to afford the necessities of life. She enrolled at Sandhills Community College (SCC) on the premise that this would be a temporary step in the right direction. In her first semester, she received an e-mail from Mr. Tim Nocton, C-Step Coordinator Phyical Edcuation Department Chair about the Carolina Student Transfer Excellence Program (C-STEP). Once accepted into the program students are guaranteed admission into the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Kara applied to the program in 2015 and was accepted; it was then she realized she could do great things, and she could not give up an amazing opportunity to further her education.
Kara decided to pursue her Associates of Arts Degree with plans to transfer into a university. While she was at SCC, she was actively involved with the Student Government Association. In the Fall semester of 2017, she was elected serve on the Executive Board as secretary. She was also a student ambassador and a career ambassador through the Career Development Services. Inducted into Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society in 2017, Kara graduated on May 13, 2017, with her Associates of Arts, Magna Cum Laude. She is looking forward to starting her junior year at Appalachian State University in the fall, where she will major in Communications and Advertising, with a minor in Business.
Kara continues to work towards her goals and during the summer, she worked at the System Office as the Marketing and Public Affairs intern (through the 2017 State of North Carolina Internship Program). During her internship, Kara has worked on various projects, including updating the website, social media content and updating award information for the Academic Excellence Award, Dallas Herring Achievement Award, and Governor Robert W. Scott Student Leadership Award recipients. She is looking forward to her biggest project in late June, when she will cover the 2017 Scholarship of Teaching & Learning Institute Workshops being held at Randolph Community College and North Carolina State University. She will be creating content and marketing the Institute's work by writing news articles and posting content on social media platforms.
Kara stated, “[t]his internship has been a great experience. It validates me in knowing that this is the right career field for me. I feel very lucky to have this opportunity because it is giving me experience before even starting my Bachelor’s. Making the decision to not go to UNC Chapel Hill was very hard. I had to look at my situation and realize that it is very different from a traditional student. I decided it was best for me to get the experience now while I can because when I graduate with my Bachelor’s, I know that is what employers will want. I think people should inform themselves about what they want to do and how they are going to get there. Through this internship, that’s what I’m doing and I encourage others to do the same. “