Friday, October 29, 2010

40 after 40: Kara Dooley


As a high school graduate who didn’t think she was “smart” enough to go to university, Kara Dooley hit the road and spent three years travelling and working abroad. As her experiences grew, so did her confidence, and Kara decided she wanted to go to college to study sign language. She took night classes at Vancouver Community College before enrolling in VCC’s Deaf Studies program in 2007. She also started volunteering at the Union Gospel Mission Women’s Drop In Centre.

“Through that experience I was able to connect with women from a variety of backgrounds and hear their stories,” Kara says. “I found the work to be interesting, challenging and exciting.”

Kara soon developed an interest in social justice and working with marginalized people, which led her to the Community Social Service Worker Program at Douglas College.

“I chose Douglas because I was told about the opportunity to carry out an overseas practicum with the CSSW program, possibly in Africa. Because of my travel experience, mixed with my interest in social work and social justice, I found it very enticing.”


After completing the Community Social Service Worker Program last year, including a practicum in Uganda, Kara is now living in Perth, Australia, where she is a case worker for a psychosocial rehabilitation program.

She credits her practicum in Uganda for helping her land the job―as well as being asked to speak at the 2010 Joint World Conference on Social Work and Social Development in Hong Kong, in June. At the conference, Kara won the “Best Abstract-Practitioner” award.

“I honestly believe that I would not be in the position I am in today if it were not for the education and experience I received through the CSSW program at Douglas,” Kara says. “Besides the interesting and challenging class work, I thought the practicums and opportunities for hands-on work really prepared me to enter into the field.”

Next on Kara’s checklist: go to university and get a degree in social work.

“I still have so much learning to do and I still doubt myself at times. But I honestly am not afraid of failing, partly because I don’t think I will, and partly because, when I make mistakes, I take that on as learning, and not failure.”

40 after 40 is a series showcasing our amazing grads and employees in celebration of our 40th anniversary. Check back every Wednesday and Friday for another inspiring story. See more about our 40th on our Anniversary page.