#Teamwork: Kara Henely Earns Two Degrees with Perseverance and Support

Developmental Specialist Kara Henely is certain the motivation and encouragement she received from her co-workers helped propel her toward donning a cap and gown, and processing to “Pomp and Circumstance” to receive her two, hard-earned college diplomas.

Even though Henely, 29, was the one who studied and attended class for six years, she believes she couldn’t have earned her Bachelor’s in Human Services with a minor in Missions from Southeastern University of Lakeland, Florida, in May 2017 or her Master of Arts degree in Human Services with a specialty in Children and Family Services in December 2018 without her supportive colleagues. Both degrees were completed online.

Henely started her role as a developmental specialist with Monarch at the Elizabeth City group home in July 2017. In addition to her duties as DSP at Ft. Bragg Drive, Henely helps out at nearby River City Achievement Center Activity Center day program when needed.

Henely recalled that Ft. Bragg Drive Residential Manager Leslie Hughes as well as fellow Developmental Specialists Gloria Blanchard and Hope Temple would often provide the pep talks as she would sometimes struggle with a full plate of studies, assignments and work. “They helped me through the process when I would question myself and ask, ‘Why am I doing this?’” Henely explained. “They gave me encouragement and told me to keep on going.”

She is appreciative of her co-workers’ support and encouragement and wanted to return the favor. She wanted to inspire them as they had done for her so she wrote them a “thank you” note after graduation: “ . . . Graduating with my master’s degree has shown me the strength that God has given me to overcome the obstacles, honing my true purpose in life: to help others where I am needed and where I can continue a pattern of growth.”

Henely knew as a young girl growing up in New Jersey that she wanted to serve others, with that feeling growing stronger since becoming an adult. When Henely was diagnosed in July 2013 with thyroid cancer, she didn’t let the illness’ side effects stop her from pursuing her goals.

“As a pastor, my dad saw so many times when people were hurting and the many people we helped . . . I am here to serve others, I am not here to wallow in my own problems,” Henely said.

Henely says the perseverance of the people we support inspired her to keep going, too. “When I am working with them, they are teaching me so much . . . I learn different ways of how they cope with situations. Where can I change? Where can I get better? The people we support have taught me about perseverance,” she said.

With the degrees that Henely earned and her focus in human services, she enthusiastically looks toward the future with hopes of working with children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder or operating an orphanage. “I want to bring inspiration to children experiencing challenges,” she said.

Photo caption: At right, Developmental Specialist Kara Henely with her father, Michael, at graduation.