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Caroline Walker

Class of: 2015
Hometown: Pittsburgh, PA
School: College of Arts and Science
Major(s): History, Medicine Health and Society

“The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.”  Mother Teresa’s words constantly resonate with Caroline and affirm the perspective on life she has developed through service.

In high school, Caroline served in two hospitals performing a variety of tasks from the front desk assistant to courier as well as working in a pharmacy.  It was the interactions she had with the patients at these hospitals and pharmacy as well as her participation in “Civic Week: Public Health” in Chicago her sophomore year, where she volunteered at homeless shelters, soup kitchens and community gardens, which instilled in her a desire to reach out to and love those specifically affected by health concerns. 

During her freshman year at Vanderbilt, Caroline expanded her focus to serving much more diverse group of people.  She prepared meals for the homeless at Room in the Inn through Vandy+Catholic and for the men restarting their lives after incarceration at Dismas House through the Grassroots service club.  Caroline worked at Second Harvest Food Bank through Grassroots as well.  She became involved at Susan Gray School through the Murray House Fellowship where she had the privilege to spend time once a week with her much loved “buddy.”  But it was her experience on her Alternative Spring Break trip to Huntsville, Alabama which solidified her reason for doing service: to see and to love the individual person. Tutoring and spending time with the children at Lincoln Village Ministries and its leaders inspired and motivated Caroline to found her service in something more substantial than to simply help others. Her service is therefore founded in her resolve that each and every person has a story, has worth no matter his place in life and deserves to be loved and know that he is loved above all else.

The following summer, Caroline worked as a Totus Tuus missionary for the Diocese of Nashville where she taught and ministered to students, 1st grade through 12th, at a different Catholic parish each week throughout Tennessee.

During Caroline’s sophomore year, she felt she had gained the understanding and conviction necessary to effectively lead others in service.  As the Apostolic Pillar for University Catholic’s campus ministry, she lead groups in hosting Room in the Inn, cook at Dismas House and mentor and tutor at a local school, St. Pius X Academy, for Pre-K through 8th grade students.  She continued her involvement with Susan Gray School and also became a mentor for Fiat, a program for young women ages 12-18 at Incarnation Cathedral.  Caroline also participated in Alternative Spring Break as a site leader to St. Louis where her group worked in a poor region in community gardens and gained a greater understanding of homelessness and poverty.  Caroline also continued to broaden her understanding of the public health system through her work as an undergraduate research assistant at a Neuroscience lab in the Vanderbilt Medical Center, where she continued to work during the summer of 2013 and throughout her junior year.

As a junior Caroline continued to work with St. Pius X, Susan Gray School, Room in the Inn, Alternative Spring Break and Dismas House.  At Dismas House she took a more involved role and began to work on historical archiving for the house as well as collecting data in order to evaluate the successes and areas of improvement for the house.  Through her relationship with Dismas House she delved further into the issues regarding the prison system while serving on the board of the Take One Initiative, now the Take One Program, which connects “returning citizens” who had spent time in prisons with religious organizations which will provide them with support and resources to successfully reintegrate into society. Caroline began volunteering with Guardian hospice where she visited once a week with patients on hospice care. She served as a site leader for Alternative Spring Break to Atlanta, Georgia where her group worked with the issue of urban hunger. In addition, she took on the role as Vice President of University Catholic.

During the summer of 2014, Caroline spent two months in Cork, Ireland working on her Ingram Summer Project.  There she worked at the Bessborough Centre, a charitable organization for “vulnerable families.”  The definition of vulnerable covered a broad spectrum of families from those in poverty to immigration issues to domestic abuse.  Caroline specifically worked in the Crèche branch of the organization, which works with the children of the families.  There, she implemented a “Cultural Exposure” program to teach the children about different nationalities in order to prevent stereotypes before they start as the area of Cork had recently experienced an influx of immigration.  Meanwhile she studied and evaluated the other branches of the organization to find areas of improvement as well as ways in which the branches already were successful.

It is the recognition of the dignity of the individual which drives Caroline to serves others above all else.  Not only to cook for them or to improve an organization but to provide something intangible to the individual: the knowledge that they matter and that someone cares for them simply as a person, a person worthy of love.

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Key Dates

  • December 1, 2017
  • Ingram Scholarship Program (High School Seniors) applications and letters of recommendation due.

  • TBD 2018
  • Ingram Scholarship Program (Current Vanderbilt First-Year & Sophomore Students) applications and letters of recommendation due.