I am constantly inspired by women who push their boundaries, step up to the plate and put others before themselves. Women who dedicate their life to helping others are my heroes and I just so happen to have a woman that is that amazing for a roommate. My amazing roommate, Kaitlyn Carroll, who is a Circle K International Trustee, agreed to sit down with me and discuss the organization she loves so much and the work she does with it.
Her Campus (HC): For those who are not familiar with Circle K International, otherwise known as CKI, would you mind telling us a little bit about it?
Kaitlyn Carroll (KC): The way I describe CKI is that it is the world’s largest student-led service organization for college students. Our big things are service, leadership and fellowship. We are a service organization first and foremost – we serve our communities whatever way we can and whichever way is needed. We also connect college students with others like them and give them lots of leadership opportunities. What makes CKI so special is that the “I” really does mean “International”. CKI is so much more than just your home club. We have clubs all around the world, in all different countries, regions and states.
HC: How did you become involved with CKI?
KC: My freshman year of high school I was in marching band and everyone in my section was in Key Club (the high school version of CKI) so I decided to join. I went to club meetings, became club editor for a year and then became club president. When I went to my last DCON (district convention for Key Club) as a senior we went to the CKI pool party and workshop. I got to meet a couple of CKI members and thought that they all seemed like really fun people. Then I came to Florida State University and I remember feeling so lonely because I didn’t have a community, so I started going to CKI meetings and the rest is history!
HC: What made you decide to step up and apply for a bigger role within this organization?
KC: The end of my freshman year I was thinking of running for an officer position and the spot for Lieutenant Governor was open. The former holder of the position realized that I was interested and encouraged me to do it. I was so scared! I just kept thinking along the lines of “I’m not qualified. I’ve never been a club officer. This is my first year in CKI. What do I know?” But I just ran and then I won, which was just so exciting. While I was Lieutenant Governor I applied for an international committee and got to be a part of the International Service Committee and met so many amazing people, which made me more interested in being a part of CKI at the international board level. In the summer between my freshman and sophomore year, I also went to CKIx – our international convention – and I found a family that I really wanted to be a part of.
HC: What does being a CKI Trustee entail?
KC: Usually when I describe to people what I do, I explain that I work with four specific CKI districts. As trustee this year I am working with West Virginia, Kentucky-Tennessee, Illinois-Eastern Iowa and Southwest – so Arizona and New Mexico. I work closely with their district board members, particularly their district governors who are the people who oversee the entire district. I support them and assist them in what they need. I mainly play a supportive role with these district board members. That is what I love most about being a trustee. I love being able to support them and what they want to do.
HC: What has Covid-19 changed about CKI? What is the organization doing to overcome these obstacles?
KC: Usually during a normal year I would get to travel and visit my districts, but with COVID we can’t do that this year. It’s a blessing and a curse because I do get to be more directly involved with my districts. Like, I’ve been to club trainings and service projects since they’re doing them all remotely.
On a club by club basis, COVID has made things a little bit harder. A lot of our clubs are doing the best that they can with the situation by having virtual meetings and service projects. Virtual service projects can include making cards to send to schools or nursing homes, painting rocks together as stress relief, or making dog toys at your house. A lot of clubs have been doing Free Rice through the UN, where for every question you answer on their website rice will get donated. UF CKI actually just did a socially distanced scavenger hunt on their campus. Clubs are really doing their best and our job as the International Board is to give them the proper resources and motivation to do this.
HC: What has been your favorite service project that you have been a part of?
KC: I love this question! Something that I’m very passionate about is food insecurity and in Tallahassee, that is a big issue. Something that FSU CKI loves to do is visit a community garden and harvest food for the homeless. We spend a day being farmers and harvesting this food so that the homeless have something other than canned and processed foods to eat. Before COVID was a problem, we would go out and do this every couple of months. This year we had a district-wide service project at Second Harvest Food Bank in Orlando and that was such fun because I got to do that with people from clubs all across Florida. Anything with helping food insecurity I find it really fun. I would say that Second Harvest Food Bank was my favorite, but before I went to that I was able to help Kiwanis Club’s in Tallahassee build a ramp for someone’s home and that was just super fulfilling.
HC: Do you have any tips or advice for people looking to become more involved with CKI and service organizations as a whole?
KC: Get involved on campus, just do it! I feel like everyone should get as involved on their college campus as possible. Having a community in college is so valuable. And don’t doubt your abilities, always go for what you want. I didn’t have any prior experience in being a CKI officer, but I became Lieutenant Governor anyway and that led me to become a trustee. You just have to be passionate and care about something.