Learn in Order to Serve: 2022 Mid-Year Graduate is living the VU motto

Learn in Order to Serve: 2022 Mid-Year Graduate is living the VU motto

Kara Nicholson standing in the sea with a youth in Haiti

December 01, 2022

By University Relations Student Journalist Olivia Tucker

VINCENNES, Ind. - Kara Nicholson ’22 is determined to help others, and she uses her strong work ethic to be of service to people outside of the United States. The connected community of a Caribbean nation near and dear to her heart draws the Vincennes University Education alum to serve those who are in need and individuals affected by poverty.

Nicholson of Odon, Indiana, graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Special Education, Mild Intervention K-12 from VU at Mid-Year Commencement on Dec. 3 at the Red Skelton Performing Arts Center.

She moved to Haiti in January 2023 to help develop the curriculum for a special needs home. She says residents attend school, but there isn't any effective learning for them. Her plan is to spend seven months there developing a curriculum to teach basic-level reading, writing, and life skills.

She has traveled repeatedly to Haiti for a decade, including the last three years with Northwest Haiti Christian Mission. Last summer, Nicholson interned for the mission in Haiti. The mission's stateside office is in Lebanon, Indiana, and it has two locations in northwestern Haiti. Nicholson will be serving at the main campus in Saint-Louis du Nord.

She fell in love with the country’s beauty and culture the moment she set foot there 10 years ago. She even has a tattoo of Haiti with a red heart for where Saint-Louis du Nord is located, and the tattoo says, "home is where the heart is" in Haitian Creole.

Nicholson (standing) during one of her many visits to Haiti

Nicholson says, “Haitians are the most generous, grateful, loving, and definitely the most resilient people you will ever meet! They do not take anything for granted and genuinely appreciate everything they have, which has given me a renewed sense of gratitude and appreciation for the little things in life. While most people think that when you go to another country or join the mission field in general that you are going to be “helping” or “teaching” other individuals, I have learned and gained so much more from the Haitians than I feel like I have been able to "teach" or "help" them with.” 

Nicholson in Haiti.
Nicholson in Haiti

Nicholson has spent lots of time focusing on her studies while preparing to become an educator. She made the Dean’s List for the 2022 Spring Semester.

She says her education experiences at VU have given her numerous opportunities to learn the knowledge and skills she needs to determine the path she will take in the education field. VU graduates are educators in many states and places around the globe, including Japan, Hong Kong, and China.

“I am using my degree in a nontraditional sense,” Nicholson says. “Obviously, I am not going into a traditional classroom, but all the things VU has equipped me with and the experiences that they have given me have been able to help me advocate for people and help them be able to understand things a little better.”

Her most significant experience is the support she receives from VU professors and their willingness to connect her with student teaching opportunities. She credits Education Professor Lisa Miller for having a major impact on her VU journey along with other education faculty.

In the future, she plans on fundraising in order to return yearly to Haiti to continue blazing her trail and helping others.

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