GREENVILLE - Thiel College is a small liberal arts college located in the town of Greenville, Pennsylvania. With a population of just under 6,000 people, it feels just like home to small town girl Keara Henry.
It was Thiel College that allowed Henry to participate in two sports and study neuroscience. Henry was a four-sport athlete at Clarion-Limestone, participating in cheerleading, dance, track and field, and volleyball.
This well- roundedness allowed for Henry to build a great variety of skills, and she was not quite ready to give up many of her biggest hobbies when deciding on a college.
Electing to go to Thiel has allowed Henry to play alongside fellow freshman Kylee Eaton who she played against in high school while also becoming teammates with Redbank Valley graduate Becca Dougherty who is in her final college season.
While coming to Thiel has allowed Henry to continue her career in volleyball, she admitted it was an adjustment in her first season.
“This season opened my eyes and showed me how hard I will need to work these next three years” Henry said. “I took this year to heart, and I am excited to get out on the court more and become even closer with my teammates the next few seasons.”
Henry also was part of a Thiel Tomcats competitive cheer squad that helped the school decide to resurrect the program.
In a competition earlier this year at Slippery Rock University, the team took first place in its first competition in several years.
“Our team really put a lot of work in” Henry explained. We spent a lot of Sunday’s in the gym having three-hour practices to perfect our technique and routines. It is a great feeling to be a part of a team who brought this tradition back.”
Though Henry enjoys athletics, she is very focused on her biggest goal which is to become a neurosurgeon. Henry was a little hesitant to say this was her goal at first, and it is understandable when knowing that to become a neurosurgeon, people must be in school for around 12 years. However, if anyone can become a neurosurgeon, it is likely Henry.
Presently, she has a great school and life balance between school and extracurricular activities. Additionally, her mother Kathy Henry is a trauma nurse at Allegheny General in Pittsburgh and serves as a great role model for Henry as she continues to strive for a career in health care. When talking about her mother she said, “My mom was tough on me, but she showed me how to act,” Henry said. “She taught me what to do in tough situations. College was not a huge shock, but more of an easy transition because she helped prepare me. She showed me what hard work and dedication looks like. She drives to Pittsburgh three days a week for her job and works long days and hours. She has played a huge role in my life and will continue to do so.”
When asking Henry how she knew she wanted to go into healthcare, she talked about a unique moment as a high school sophomore on a job shadow at Allegheny General Hospital.
“My mom helped me land a job shadow with nurses at the hospital. It was a great experience and opened my eyes to everyone’s role,” Henry said. “While nursing is a great field, I knew that being a doctor was what I wanted to do. Their command of a room and staying calm in pressure packed situations was something I was looking for in a career. I think being a doctor will allow me to save lives and make a positive impact and give many people their best life.”
While Henry is just completing her freshman year at Thiel, she admitted that she is considering Pitt and LECOM in the future because of each of the school’s reputation and the proximity to her of Clarion as well.
When reflecting on a transitional year for Henry on the volleyball court, Henry likes the way the Tomcats ended the season.
It was a tough way to begin her first year of college volleyball, but the team stuck together and developed more chemistry and experience together.
“If we keep working hard and keep putting in the work, we think we can beat a lot of teams and can compete for a conference title,” Henry said. “We just have to continue to put in the time on an individual level and also as a team.”
As her first year of college nears an end, Henry has a lot of potential to gain more playing time as a setter for the Tomcats over the next three years. She will also take on more responsibility and be looked at as one of the leaders of the Tomcats cheer squad who will continue to have a team consistently. She will also begin diving deeper into her major of neuroscience which is helping bring her closer to her dream job as a neurosurgeon. For anyone who knows Henry knows that she has the brains to succeed in the classroom, the athletic ability to succeed on the court and the mat, and the kindness to help others in need.