Imagine yourself doing what you love and loving what you do, being happy from the inside out, living your dreams wide awake, creative, unique, you- changing things to the way you know they can be-enjoying the life you've always imagined. (quote from a Greeting Card)
Hi! My name is Casey and home for me is a small two-stop light town called Chapin in the midlands of South Carolina. I come from a wonderful family of five – my mom, Julie, my dad, David, and my two younger brothers, Justin and Chandler. Each of my family members has always been supportive of me and I’ve learned from each of them in various ways throughout my life. I am currently entirely undecided on what I want to major in or where I want to focus my energy during my time at Duke. I have a multitude of interests and continue to get overly excited by new ideas and discoveries that I come across each week. However I have several passions that have been burning within me for many years now.
I will always have a love for dance and music. I have been and always will be a dancer. I began dancing when I was four and was always dancing down the aisles of the grocery store, I danced at a competitive dance studio, and I continue to enjoy dancing at Duke as I am now a member of a dance group called On Tap and am enrolled in dance classes offered by Duke’s Dance Program.
Throughout high school, I attended a well-funded middle-class public high school. I had numerous resources at my fingertips every day and my teachers were excited and engaged in what they were teaching us. The summer after my junior year I saw the documentary “Corridor of Shame” which highlighted the schools along the I-95 corridor in South Carolina and discussed their financial struggles that had been going on for decades. Completely shocked about the condition of these schools, I had a strong urge to do something about it. I initiated a project for my high school’s student government to ‘adopt’ one of the poorly funded schools along the “corridor of shame.” Within just a few months, we were able to raise $10,000 along with a plethora of books, school supplies, and even clothes to give to the children of our adopted school. Although satisfied with our donation to this very gracious school, I knew something more permanent needed to be done, something that would affect more than just one school on the Corridor of Shame. I became a strong advocate for the Goodbye Minimally Adequate campaign, at attempt to collect 1,000,000 signatures and petition a change in the South Carolina constitution, which was the reason these schools were not receiving enough state funding. During this campaign, another opportunity to make a difference presented itself to me. In 2009, the governor of South Carolina was refusing the federal stimulus for public education. Confused, bewildered, and upset about this decision, I collaborated with lawyers and a public relations firm in South Carolina and filed a State Supreme Court law suit, Casey Edwards vs. the State of South Carolina, aimed at acquiring the federal stimulus funds for public education. After several months, the court ruled in my favor, which to me symbolized a ruling in favor of public education and all the teaching jobs and educational programs that were not going to be cut as a result of the state receiving these funds. Obviously, I’m still a very strong supporter of public education, but my true passion lies in education of all types. Nelson Mandela said it best, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
Another one of my more recent passions developed after I took a short three-week journey during the summer of 2009 to Zimbabwe. In less than a month, the people who surrounded me had transformed my heart. I left the United States not knowing what to expect when I got there, but with the vision of sad, poor people in desperate need of my help. When I returned home several weeks later, I realized that while I had offered my time and service to the people in Old Mutare, Zimbabwe, they had given me something much more valuable: the understanding that life is about so much more than material possessions and no matter how many “things” you accomplish in life - they have no meaning unless you are surrounded by the people you love. I have a desire to return to Zimbabwe in the near future and continue to work alongside the people who live there in hopes of providing them with tools and resources they need to live long, healthy, happy lives. Last summer I was able to work with children at a secondary school, tutoring them in chemistry, physics, and English. I was also able to spend ample time with children at the orphanage where I was staying. The smiles that these children had on their faces each time I came outside to play with them is engrained in my mind and on my heart, they all lived with a joy I cannot begin to try and express, but it is one I have tried to emulate every day since then.
Duke University is a place of great opportunity and I continue to discover new passions and explore new interests every day that I am here. The Baldwin Scholars program has already provided me with a network of female activists on Duke’s campus and around the world. Each scholar is unique and inspiring and together we are an unstoppable team of female leaders. One of the most compelling aspects of the Baldwin Scholars program for me is the opportunity to create close relationships with other women on Duke’s campus, students and faculty, so that we can share resources and collaborate on ideas during our time together. Coming from various backgrounds, each Baldwin Scholar has been extraordinarily successful in one or more areas of their life, yet we all are genuinely interested in learning from one another. I’m so excited about the opportunity to spend my next several years alongside 17 other well accomplished young women, I know the future holds countless innovative endeavors for us all.