Courage to Climb Award: Carolina De La Torre
Carolina De La Torre is a senior double-majoring in psychology and sociology. Carolina hails from Knoxville and was raised in a culturally rich family. Her parents are first-generation immigrants from Peru.
Carolina’s most notable impact as a UT student has been her participation in the undergraduate research project in which she investigated the impact of incarceration on friends and family of people incarcerated in the Knox County criminal justice system.
By conducting interviews with these friends and family members, Carolina learned how incarceration affects the entire family system, including relationships, parenting, and finances.
“Every single story was different. They were all affected in different ways.”
When asked what initiated her interest in this population, Carolina cited her upbringing – specifically, her parents’ experience as immigrants, which led them, in turn, to working with persons who were marginalized and underserved.
“I grew up seeing how people get ignored and how people want justice. If anyone is being ignored by society, it’s people that society deems as having done something wrong. But I don’t believe in lost causes.”
Carolina also studied abroad in Israel and focused her studies on the psychology and sociology of the culture of the people of Israel.
“It was a very enlightening experience to be in a place that had the potential for so much conflict and problems, but for some reason, things are OK.” Carolina is also involved with research on Internet culture; specifically memes and how they represent her generation.
Carolina serves as the co-president of the Latin American Student Organization. She also teaches salsa classes as a piece of her leadership of LASO. “I love it when people say, ‘Ah, I can’t do it,’ and then they start doing it. Teaching reminds me to keep it simple.”
When thinking about her future, Carolina stated she hopes to attend graduate school and work with interdisciplinary groups. First, however, she intends to take a year after graduation to travel and dedicate time for herself. During this time, she also hopes to work with the Knox County public school system to learn about school counseling and the ways that children experience and receive help for trauma.