Carolyn Kern began her professional career in the state where she was raised: Kansas. Having earned her bachelor’s degree in Education in 1974 from the University of Kansas, she worked as a substitute teacher, a junior high school physical education teacher, a high school teacher and counselor, and a university-based career counselor. She earned her master’s degree in school counseling from Emporia State University in 1982. In 1986, she moved to Oklahoma where she worked for the next five years at OSU as a residence hall director and university counselor while completing her Ph.D. in Counseling and Development.
In 1991, Carolyn moved to Denton, Texas, to join the University of North Texas Counseling Program faculty as a brand new assistant professor. In 1998, she was tenured and promoted to associate professor. Over the years, Carolyn produced several publications and made numerous professional presentations. For three years beginning in 2006, she was Principal Investigator for a $225,000 grant for a campus suicide prevention program. In 2010, she took a Professional Development Leave to learn about counseling in Israel, an experience she said changed her life.
Carolyn was deeply involved in professional service. Over the years, she served on many committees and held several offices of the American and Texas Counseling Associations, College Counseling Associations, and Associations for Counselor Education and Supervision. From 2006 through 2010, she was an ACA Governing Council Member. In 2011, she received the TCA Distinguished Service Award (for the sixth time!), was named an ACA Fellow, and was elected TCA President—and in the summer of 2012, as she was about to begin her year in that latter position, she was diagnosed with cancer and was unable to carry out the role.
Carolyn was equally involved at the local level. Among the highlights of her extensive service at all levels at UNT was her co-founding with Dr. Cynthia Chandler in 1995 of the Institute in Counselor Supervision. For the next 17 years, the two professionals annually provided the 40-hour training to enable Texas LPCs to become LPC-Supervisors. A year or two ago, Carolyn did some investigation and determined that she and Cynthia had prepared nearly 2/3 of the LPC-Ss in Texas – quite a legacy to leave.
Carolyn most often taught courses regarding counseling skills, counseling adolescents, and college counseling. In addition to her classroom instruction, Carolyn served as major professor for seven Ph.D. graduates from the UNT Counseling Program and served on the dissertation committees of 30 more. Both her students and her colleagues knew her to be a caring and dedicated counseling professional. She was an eternal optimist and who focused on resiliency and was a proponent of a wellness perspective—emphases that meshed well with her identity as an Adlerian counselor. Students were quick to comment on her contagious zest for life, a presence that could put anyone at ease, and a laugh that filled a room. Those who knew her best found her to be exceptionally human in her openness to feedback and growth. In the words of a former student, she “taught me how to treat people.” Throughout her career, she maintained her dedication to adolescent and college counseling and her staunch belief in the inherent worth of every person. She also was a staunch Christian who believed unwaveringly that in physical death, she would continue in eternal life.
Carolyn’s passing in early November 2013 in some ways seemed tragically premature: She was enjoying the peak of her professional involvement. On the other hand, not many people can claim to have achieved and given so much over three decades in the counseling profession. In so many ways, Carolyn exemplified the Adlerian concept of social interest. For her many constructive contributions to the betterment of society, and for the caring and affirming person she was, those of us who knew her will miss her deeply.