Name: Caitlin Carlson
Profession: Journalism — Senior Digital Editor at Men’s Fitness magazine
Years in Minds Matter: 4
Position in Minds Matter: Writing Advisor (all 4 years)
Why did you join Minds Matter? I had been looking for a way to give back, and when a friend of mine mentioned she was involved, it seemed like a great way to marry interest in giving back with what I’m actually good at and what my passion is, which is writing.
What’s your favorite part of Minds Matter? I like the feeling of making a difference for somebody. It can be as simple as, on a Saturday a kid will say something that makes you good about getting out of bed and doing something more meaningful than just going to brunch with your friends.
For me, though, one of the most rewarding things was that a former student of mine reached out to say she got into Smith College (I stay in the junior program, so I’m not working with them senior year for their applications). Her getting into college – and such a great school – was the most rewarding thing. It really validates everything. She said “I thought you deserved to know that I got into this college and it was because of you.” You show up and work with these kids, and you don’t always see the difference you’re making at the time. But then someone remembers to send you an email about their accomplishment, and they give you credit for it, that’s really validating.
And these kids make you reassess what you’re grateful for. Some things are so easy for us, but these kids sit on a train for 2 hours to get to school. They really do whatever it takes, and that inspires me.
Any favorite Minds Matter memories? Last year, one of my mentees asked me to come to her school for career day to talk about journalism. I went to her school on a random weekday to talk to her friends. (She lives really far into Brooklyn! That’s the other thing about these students, they make you really reassess what you’re grateful for. Some things are so easy for us; I have a friend who complains about her 40-minute commute, but some of these kids spend 2 hours on the subway just to get to school. They really do whatever it takes.)
Anyway, I’m at career day, and I was in a classroom, and there were rotating groups of students coming in, and I got to talk about my job and what I do. The student was proud to have me there, and I had such a good time. And it was all because of Minds Matter.
Fun fact: On February 28, I’ll run my last of the six World Marathon Majors. This one’s in Tokyo! (I’ve run London, New York, Boston, Chicago, and Berlin. And I’ve actually run New York 3 times!)
What her co-writing advisors and nominators said about her: “I have seen a lot of volunteers come through the program, and I can tell when a good one shows up. Caitlin is so dedicated to her students. And particularly in writing, it’s important not just to edit their essays, but to help them learn to edit their own essays. She really helps her students understand their mistakes so they can identify them (and fix them) on their own in the future.”
What her students say about her: “Caitlin is an amazing teacher, and her feedback always helped me a lot.”
“I so appreciate everything she’s done for me.”
“I look forward to staying in touch with her. I wish I could bring her to college with me!”
“I love that she’s a serious runner. She’s so inspiring.”
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