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 for her. 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 now had to deal with financial changes 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. With her daughter entering preschool, Kara decided it was time for her to go back to school.
She wanted to give her daughter the best life possible. Kara noted that she didn’t want her daughter to have to struggle growing up and not be able to have the basic things in life because she didn’t know what to do with her life. She enrolled at Sandhills Community College, and in her mind, it was a temporary step in the right direction. In her first semester, she received an e-mail from Mr. Tim Nocton, Coordinator, C-Step and Department Chair/Associate Professor, Physical Education at Sandhills Community College about a program called C-STEP (Carolina Student Transfer Excellence Program). The program admits the student into University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill if you were accepted into the program. Kara applied to the program in 2015 and was accepted, it was then she realized she could do great things, and she couldn’t give up this amazing opportunity to further her education.
Kara decided to pursue her Associates of Arts Degree, with plans to transfer. While she was at SCC, she was actively involved with the Student Government Association. In the Fall semester of 2017, she was voted to serve on the Executive Board as secretary. She was also a student ambassador for the community college, and career ambassador through the Career Development Services. She was also inducted into Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society in 2017. She graduated on May 13, 2017, with her Associates of Arts, Magna Cum Laude. She is now looking forward to starting her junior year at Appalachian State University in the fall, where she is majoring in Communications, Advertising with a minor in Business.
Kara has been working hard towards her goals and is a part of the 2017 State of North Carolina Internship Program working at the NC Community College System office as the Marketing and Public Affairs intern. Since starting her internship, Kara has been working on projects consisting of working with the community college website and updating award information for the Academic Excellence Award recipients, Dallas Herring Achievement Award, and Governor Robert W. Scott Student Leadership Award. She is also getting experience and working with marketing through social media applications. She is looking forward to her biggest project later in June where she will be covering the 2017 Scholarship of Teaching & Learning Institute Workshops being held at Randolph Community College and North Carolina State University. She will be relaying the work that this institute has accomplished, and getting this news from the Institute on social media platforms.
Kara states, “This 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. “