Kyara Drew ’22, a psychology major at Carolina, said she has always thought the mind is fascinating.
“Because of my dad,” she explained. “He was a huge motivating factor as far as what path I would take career-wise.”
The daughter of a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army, Kyara had an upbringing that only military families can truly understand: the excitement of moving to new bases, the support of a tight-knit community — and the fear that pervades a home when a family member is deployed.
That fear was realized when her dad was injured in Iraq in 2005, when Kyara was 5 years old. He was treated for three years at a VA hospital in Washington, D.C., for post-traumatic stress disorder and mild traumatic brain injury among other injuries.
Kyara recalls days spent by her father’s side. But she didn’t quite understand the severity and complexity of her father’s trauma until her junior year of high school, when she participated in a research symposium on how PTSD and TBI affect soldiers’ lives.
“The statistics were alarming and kind of heartbreaking,” Kyara recalled. “I decided then and there that I wanted to work for the VA, treating veterans and their families as a clinical psychologist.”
Motivated, determined and ready to get started, there was only one thing in Kyara’s way: How would she pay for tuition?
“Carolina was my number one option, my big shot. But money was always a factor,” said Kyara, whose parents told her that she would have to attend the university that offered her the most financial support.
“Luckily, that happened to be Carolina,” Kyara laughed.
As a recipient of the Carolina Covenant and a beneficiary of those who have supported the Red, White and Carolina Blue Challenge, Kyara has the opportunity to graduate from a world-class University, debt-free.
“I’m grateful for this opportunity that reduces the financial burden for my family,” Kyara shared. “It’s wonderful to see that the Carolina community recognizes the sacrifices of service personnel, many of whom have dependents, like me. Because of my scholarships, I am able to pursue my dream of helping veterans and their families without worrying about the cost of tuition.”
Since coming to Carolina, Kyara’s plans have evolved and her dreams have only gotten bigger. She is considering applying to nursing schools after graduation, but her long-term goal to help veterans remains the same.
“Being a nurse is another way to help people,” said Kyara. “As a nurse, I’ll gain a different understanding about veterans and how they feel, and that’s an experience I will be able to carry with me. If I enjoy nursing, I could pursue becoming a nurse practitioner and further my education that way. There are so many ways to help.”