Meet Caroline King

The rain fell softly against the windows of the Boston Public Library. Caroline King and I made our way to a bench in the library’s historic Abbey Room, both of us taken aback by the intricate paintings that surrounded us. After settling in, King took some sips from her bright pink, perfectly monogrammed water bottle and responded to the last of the many emails she was probably receiving about her latest involvement with the Student Government Association. King and I met in our Ethics and Justice class during our first semester at Emerson College. Both freshmen, we were equally intimidated by everyone else in the room, so our friendship bloomed quite quickly. Soon after, Caroline King and I joined Alpha Epsilon Phi, a sorority at Emerson, and it was during that process that I realized how unique it was to come across someone like King. Caroline King is one of the rare people who has taken their upbringing in stride. King grew up in a family with mainly conservative beliefs, but as she has begun to adapt as an adult, her dedication to non-profit work and politics has expanded her mind.

Caroline King grew up in the notably conservative city of San Antonio, Texas. She “loved growing up in Texas,” besides the unforgiving year-round heat, and found it to be the perfect hometown. Though she loved her city, King was highly aware that there was much more awaiting her. Growing up with the itch to explore, King made her way to downtown Boston for college to pursue a degree in Communication Studies. After arriving in Boston, King was greeted with the not-so-subtle liberal blanket that seemed to cover the city. However, unlike some who come from a different political upbringing, King was intrigued by the new and exciting beliefs. Though daunting at first, King was happy to notice her point of view slowly taking on a new form. However, King has no trouble opening up about the difficulties she met at the beginning of her transition. “Coming here, especially the Emerson liberal bubble, I feel like I’ve been able to take a lot of my perspectives from growing up in a conservative environment and use them to enhance my understanding of the other side of those issues. I just love being here with people who think differently than those I’m used to being around.”

It can easily be said that Boston and Texas are on complete opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to political views. Due to this, we have seen, time and time again, people who simply cannot compromise or adapt to different beliefs if forced to encounter them. Not only does King show us an example of open-mindedness, but she shows an undeniable confidence when it comes to her beliefs.  Caroline King has taken the role of a woman raised with conservative views and fueled it into a fire of involvement, advocacy and philanthropic efforts. In politics, a field notoriously known for being a man’s world, King has asserted herself, southern belle charm and all, and has made it clear that she will be leaving an impact on the “Emerson bubble.” Something that allowed King to get to this point of certainty in her opinions is her openness to adapt to new ideals she has adopted during her time at liberal arts school. “I’ve been forced to do more research and educate myself on topics that are more controversial from where I’m from.” King, obviously not afraid to learn a thing or two outside of her classes, has taken it upon herself to make herself into a knowledgeable and powerful student, and future non-profit leader. Through successful campaigning and an outpour of support from her peers, King was elected as the Secretary of the Class Council of 2020. As she is only a second semester freshman, it will be no surprise to see King only gain more momentum throughout the rest of her time at Emerson. With more confidence in every stride, Caroline King has made it her goal to soak up every ounce of experience, diversity and knowledge the city of Boston has to offer.

The path to Caroline King’s current home at Emerson College began back in her junior year of high school, where she discovered her passion for non-profit work. “I volunteered for a women’s shelter through one of the Catholic charities in San Antonio and it was a home for single mothers between the ages of 18 and 22 with one or two children. They were able to live there for free as long as they were pursuing a job or going to school.” King took on the role of babysitter and provided child care for the mothers so they could go to classes, social service counseling and job interviews. Although King admitted later that she “was honestly just going in there to put something on her resume for college,” she ended up falling in love with the tremendous work that went on there. From then on, King was fascinated by the thousands of non-profit organizations that are sprinkled throughout the country. “Being [at the women’s shelter] and just realizing how incredible these women were really exposed me to things I had never seen before. I was able to realize how fortunate I am, which pretty much forced me to want to dedicate my life to contributing to organizations like this one.” Caroline King presents a rare breed of human. Having grown up in a conservative, homogenous environment, King was highly susceptible to falling under the spell of privilege, closing her mind to other beliefs and turning a blind eye to problems that did not directly impact her. Instead, King took her background and used it as motivation to be a force in the movement to improve the world around her. King’s outstanding work with non-profit organizations shows the power of acknowledging the privilege you grew up with and using it to give back.

As for politics, her avid membership on her high school’s speech and debate team fed King’s desire to keep herself involved and educated in politics. Her teammates were all highly engaged in politics and participating in competitions required King to develop strong, well informed opinions on a wide array of topics every weekend. Once her interest was piqued, King began to become politically aware of her surroundings. “A lot of the things I was seeing in terms of beliefs and attitudes at my high school and around my area, I realized I just did not agree with. It made me begin working to develop my own opinions, separate from those who surrounded me.” Once again, in a setting perfectly tailored to diminishing any opposing perspectives, King took it upon herself to become educated on the other half of the story. Strong, intelligent and determined to understand, King began her involvement in student government and politics. During her first semester at Emerson College, King found many of her friends were involved in the Student Government Association, or SGA. “I thought they were really an incredible group of people, so when elections came around I was looking to get involved in another group and SGA really just fit everything I was looking for.” Getting involved with SGA at Emerson allowed King to expand her horizons even more so than she already had. Caroline King took her new surroundings in her stride and allowed these new thoughts and perspectives to inspire her rather than infuriate her.

Throughout her first two semesters in her new home in Boston, there is no doubt that King went through some incredible transformations. However, even she is aware of the rarity her tolerance of political beliefs is when entering what some may call unchartered territory for a girl raised conservative. Yet, King hopes that the bounds she has leapt will inspire others to follow suit if they find themselves in her same position.

What would you say to other people in your position who are making a transition from such a strongly political part of the country to another?

Caroline King: "I would say… don’t be afraid to disagree with the people around you. I mean, I definitely have different views than some of the people around me at school, but I think when you come from a very conservative environment it’s important to keep an open mind. Since I come from such a different political atmosphere than the one I’m in now, I definitely identify with certain aspects of both ends of the political spectrum. But I think it is so important, no matter where you fall, to not be afraid to state your opinion even if you are in the minority. Just really open yourself to listening to what other people have to say. Even if it’s something completely different than what you’re used to being exposed to, because you could end up completely changing your mind about something or learning something you never knew before. Allow yourself to grow, change and realize it’s okay to change your mind and alter your stance. Just, don’t be afraid."

Breaking boundaries is never an easy feat. Those who are successful are few and far between, but that is why it is vital to admire those that finally break through. In today’s world, a kind heart and fair mind can save an entire race. Caroline King is an exceptional leader, woman and politician. She has proved time and again that growth is possible no matter where you come from, or what beliefs you may have started with. Caroline King has broken boundaries, let her inspire you.