Sally Henry: Setting the Tone


Isaac Stone, Contributing Writer

Being the first member of your family to attend a university is big, but being the only person representing your culture at a school, now that is something to talk about. Sally Henry, resident of Storm Lake, Iowa, takes on all of the challenges that come her way. From her family of Pohnpehian descent, Sally has made it her goal to be the first in her family to graduate from college.   

Storm Lake is known for its diversity. One of the cultures represented here is the Micronesian culture. Sally and her family came to Storm Lake in 2005. When her family came, other members of her family came, then more family and friends came, and so on. The Henry family gave many Micronesian families the opportunity to live in Storm Lake.   

Henry attended Storm Lake schools during her early education. She graduated from Storm Lake High School in 2020, chose to attend Buena Vista University, and is now studying art. She is the first member of her family to attend college. While doing that, she also takes part in working for the Army National Guard as a truck driver.  

During her junior year of high school, Henry was inducted into the National Honor Society. During her senior year, she got the opportunity to speak at the induction ceremony to induct the incoming members of that year. 

“My junior year, that’s when most of my family members and relatives came to see me get inducted. After that, my mom and dad cried for me because they told me that this was the first step. I still have college to go through,” said Henry.  

Henry’s dream was to walk across the stage of her high school graduation and receive her diploma. She had worked very hard for it and wanted to have the feeling of walking across that stage. Unfortunately for her, COVID-19 had other plans.   

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, Henry’s second semester of her senior year was cut short. The traditional graduation ceremony did not take place at its usual time due to the pandemic. With all of that taking place, Henry went on to basic training in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Eventually, Storm Lake had its graduation ceremony in mid-July of that year, but Henry was not around due to basic training.  

“When I got the news that school was canceled for the rest of the year, it made me sad because it was always a dream of mine to walk across the stage. I feel like I’m really trying to push myself for college so I can feel that experience. That feeling where you walk across that stage and grab your degree,” said Henry.  

The opportunity to attend college is more than just making her family proud and getting her degree. For years, Henry has been a positive role model for the little kids in her community. Henry wants to set the tone for kids that look like her that want to attend college.  

“I have lots of relatives that look up to me. They are always saying good things about me, but sometimes I feel pressured. I feel good but pressured at the same time. I’ve been told multiple times how much of a role model I can be,” said Henry.  

Sally also has been a role model to her younger siblings, Shaq and Shannon. Both have attended Storm Lake schools. Shaq graduated in 2022 and Shannon is currently in her junior year. Sally and Shannon are not only sisters but best friends. Shannon claims that Sally has been one of the biggest role models in her life.  

“I have always looked up to Sal. She is my big sister. Seeing her go off to college made me want to do the same when I finish high school. I don’t know where I’m going yet, but I know for sure that I want to. She motivated me to and she motivates me every day,” said Shannon.  

Going from a very diverse school in Storm Lake to a university where she is the only one representing her culture has been different for Henry. Though Sally may be the only Pohnpehian student attending Buena Vista, that has not stopped her from wanting to get her degree.  

“Being the only Pohnpehian student has been tough. I feel alone when it comes to it. But at the same time, it shows that I represent my community here in Storm Lake. Others think that Micronesians don’t typically go to college. I’m just proving them all wrong,” said Henry.  

As the school year comes to an end, Henry gets to finish it off by going to nationals as part of the stunt team in Dallas. It may seem as though juggling school, the army, and stunt can be a challenge, but Henry is not fazed. 

With all the barriers that have come Henry’s way, she still manages to go on with a smile on her face, and a will to succeed. The only thing on her mind right now is, of course, her family and friends, but obtaining her degree and getting to walk that stage.