The Unsung Heroine award recognizes a woman who has demonstrated extraordinary dedication to issues that face women at Duke or in the larger community, but whose efforts have not received formal recognition.
2014 Award Winner: Caroline Kiritsy
Caroline is a member of the graduating Class of 2014 and a Pratt engineer. She is a coxswain and co-Captain of the varsity rowing team and an active member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority.
From Caroline’s nomination letter:
In her role on the rowing team, Caroline is an active, vocal representative for the 50+ roster of women with both her coach and within the Athletics department. Earlier this academic year, she approached her coach to talk about tensions she felt within the team related to issues of sexual orientation and gender identity. Caroline had heard teammates making homophobic and heterosexist remarks on several occasions. She advocated strongly with her coach that the team receive some sensitivity training in order to educate the team and stop the hurtful, divisive comments. Caroline enrolled the help of her co-captain in this effort and the two of them persisted in making sure that the team received the training. I daresay, without Caroline’s vision and determination, the training would not have happened. In this endeavor Caroline has helped over fifty women at Duke become better educated about and aware of issues of gender and sexuality that will serve them very well as they move beyond Duke.
Caroline’s work with Athlete Ally at Duke as a member of the Executive committee has also been exemplary. Athlete Ally is our newest student group and has taken off under the leadership team, most notably Caroline’s efforts. Caroline has spearheaded the efforts of this new student group as they had realized homophobia, transphobia, and heterosexism in athletics and they no longer wanted to support a culture that treated people disrespectfully. They approached me last summer to be their advisor saying they were ready and wanted to become a force on campus for building and exhibiting LGBTQ support not just for athletes but also across the campus. They have worked hard to become a visible presence both within Athletics and on campus, meeting with the Coach’s Roundtable twice and also going to individual team meetings to talk about their work.
She is dedicated to having difficult discussions and face-to-face encounters and to helping prepare herself and others to stand up in the locker room or on the playing field and challenge injustice when it raises its head.
Caroline encourages first-year Duke women to meet upperclassmen women who inspire them and to network within the Duke community. "It is because of the courageous, intelligent role models that I have found that I have been able to feel confident and empowered at Duke. It is far too easy to lose yourself and be persuaded by a 'popular' image of happiness. Find individuals who have similar passions and beliefs and seek out opportunities that will make you your best self."
Caroline will be moving to Chareston, South Carolina, after commencement to work for Boeing Commercial Airlines as a Tooling and Equipment Engineer.