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August 12, 2021

Age: 19
Favorite sports to play: Basketball, soccer and volleyball
Favorite sports to watch: American football, soccer, basketball and Formula 1
Favorite Team: Loves the New Orleans Saints and Real Madrid equally
Friends describe her as: Loyal, compassionate and dedicated

Carolina splits her time between her home of Tegucigalpa, Honduras and Cornell University in Ithaca, New York where she is studying Human Development. Having seen others around her suffer from mental illnesses, trauma and inequality, she wants to normalize conversations on these issues and share a diversity of stories on what people are dealing with. She especially wants to lift taboos on speaking about mental health issues and disabilities.

The 19-year-old is extremely active in her community having co-founded Alzando la Voz (Raising our Voice) to spread awareness on the emotional, verbal and physical abuse women face in Honduras. At school she volunteers with Rally Cap Sports, working with children and adolescents with disabilities so that they can have an opportunity to exercise and play sports. She strongly believes that everyone has the right to do what they are passionate about and people with disabilities are no exception.

1. What does it mean to you to be selected for the inaugural class of the Beyond Sport Youth Advisory Board (BSYAB)?

It means the world to me. Combining my two passions of sports and serving others has always been a dream of mine and having the ability to do just that with others with the same passions is simply an honor. It is also an amazing opportunity to show that the world of sports is a platform for so much more than just to play. It’s an amazing platform that can be used to, not only unite communities, but to bring awareness and address the many social issues that our world has.

2. Over the two years, what is the primary thing you are most looking forward to getting out of the experience? What do you want to learn and teach?

I am most looking forward to meeting people with my same passions, to join forces, share ideas, and learn from others to address different social issues through the world of sports.

I want to learn from others’ experiences, hear their stories and the social issues that they are passionate about. I want to learn about other people’s communities and the creative ways that they are making a difference. This will allow me to become more aware of the world around me and it will help me work with others to make a change.

And I want to teach others about my community here in Honduras and the different struggles that we face. I want to tell others my story and the social issues I am passionate about changing.

3. Beyond Sport believes that sport for social change is more than just bringing people together to bond and bridge divides through play, it’s about using it as a platform of learning and development. When used purposefully, and with intention, it can be a powerful pathway to effective solutions to the most complex social issue of our time.

What does using “sport with intention” mean to you?

Using sport to foster positive development in others and, through this, create a more equal and healthier society.

4. Who do you think is getting it right in the world of social change and why?

In Honduras, an organization getting it right in the world of social change is called “El Milenio.” They work to empower young people to raise their voices around topics that they are passionate about and allow them to express themselves and spread awareness about different issues. They also inform the Honduran community about issues involving politics and local issues. It’s an amazing platform that is informing and helping the Honduran population.

Outside of my country, an athlete that is extremely inspirational both on the field and outside of it is Drew Brees. I feel that he has done an amazing job in creating social change in the state of Louisiana and around the world. He has donated more than $45,000,000 globally and has changed the lives of millions of children and families in need.

5. You identified mental illness, trauma and disability as your key areas of focus. What specifically drove you to take up these causes?

These issues are extremely prevalent, not only in Honduras, but in the world, and unfortunately, they are rarely talked about. People have gotten used to struggling by themselves, to staying quiet about how they feel, about what they are going through or what they went through. People should not struggle alone; they should be able to tell their story without feeling ashamed; they should be proud of who they are and who they are going to be.

In Honduran society, most people are taught to shove their problems under the rug and to act tough, as if nothing is going on. Disabilities, mental health issues and trauma are rarely included in conversations and are taboo subjects that people would rather avoid because they feel uncomfortable. However, it is important to start these uncomfortable conversations to help make a change.

6. What inspired you to co-found your organization, Alzando la Voz?

Alzando la Voz was a project created during quarantine (mid-May of 2020) when a friend of mine texted me that she was tired of not being able to do anything about the prevalence of emotional and physical abuse towards women in Honduras. She came to me with the idea, and I was immediately captivated. I wanted to help make a change, I wanted to help start the conversation on this topic that is rarely talked about.

Honduras is a very misogynistic country where women are treated very badly. 2019 registered a femicide every 23 hours. Me and my other three friends wanted to raise awareness around these topics and we have been able to do just that. Many women from different parts of Honduras have reached out to tell their stories, to ask for help or to simply offer their support.

Through different activities on our Instagram, we have been able to spark different conversations with our audience. We have also donated many supplies to mothers and their children in a local hospital and collaborated with other projects around Honduras to help make a difference.

7. What activities are you doing to spread awareness on mental, verbal and physical abuse through your organization?

Through our different social media posts, we are telling people’s stories, sharing statistics around abuse in Honduras and the world. We are also sharing information on certain terms that people are not familiar with, like femicide, the different types of feminism, the different types of abuse, the personality behind violence, etc.

We have also collaborated with other organizations to normalize the conversation around abuse and show that it is a real problem. We have collected donations and are in the process of creating a project to help a home for women who have been abused here in Honduras.

8. What are your professional goals?

Even though I still do not have a clear path towards what I am going to do professionally after graduation, I do know that I want to work with children and adolescents to foster their positive development in any way that I can. Whether that be through research or working with organizations, I want to make a difference in the lives of children in need. Find different ways where they can use their whole potential and live a life that they deserve. I want to let them know that they are not alone, that they can talk about their problems and that they can do anything that they propose themselves to do.

9. As you progress in life and your career, what legacy do you hope to leave on your peers, family and community?

The legacy that I hope to leave on my peers, family and community is that of loving each other and treating everyone with kindness. I always live by the fact that everyone has their own story to tell, their own struggles. I want others to understand this and to know that this is why we shouldn’t judge others but should love others no matter what. It is time to listen to other’s stories, be empathetic and always love one another despite our differences. Our differences only make our world stronger and more beautiful.

10. Do you have a personal motto?

I have always lived by the motto that everything happens for a reason. I feel that we have all been put on this world for a reason, and, whatever happens, whether it be good or bad is only to make us stronger and better people. Life is a classroom, and everything that happens helps us learn more about ourselves and the world around us.

Meet all eight of the inaugural Beyond Sport Youth Advisory Board members