2016 Tillman Scholar

Caroline Cleveland

University of North Carolina

“If we each give ourselves to one person, then together we can save the masses, one person at a time.”

Although Caroline joined the Army after 9/11 to safeguard her family from the atrocities of terrorism at home, it wasn’t until she lost her teammate – Lt. Ashley White – in Afghanistan that she discovered the deepest meaning of service and self-sacrifice. Her work as part of the Army’s first Cultural Support Team with Ashley and Afghan women, amidst terrorist training camps and rape houses, has inspired a new calling to serve people who have been marginalized in the most violent parts of the world.  At the University of North Carolina, she is fulfilling this ambition by becoming a physical therapist (PT) to eventually provide rehabilitative care to victims of war and rape, while working to abolish the sex slave trade.

No longer conflicted by Viktor Frankl’s statement that “it is nobler to give yourself completely to one individual than to labor diligently for the salvation of the masses.” Caroline wants to better understand, accurately diagnose, and effectively treat her patient’s unique physical, emotional, and sociocultural needs. After graduation, she plans to volunteer through Heal Africa in the Congo where rape – as it is in far too many countries –  is used as a weapon for suppression of women and young girls.  While she acknowledges that the task of abolishing human trafficking and sex slavery seems insurmountable, she is undeterred from trying in Congo or elsewhere. On the ground level, she hopes to leverage the skills and tactics she learned about counterinsurgency in the military to recruit and lead medical teams that can provide care and safety for the victims of rape and trafficking.