Continuing King’s Legacy: Annamarie Carlson ’14

January 16, 2012

SPARC 2011

(Photo by Raghabendra KC ’13)

Education lies at the heart of Annamarie Carlson’s vision of a better world, but not in the sense of a classroom, assigned reading, and tests. Instead, it’s focused on the idea that learning to see people better—their dreams, hopes, and aspirations—enables one to act responsibly and respectfully. With this understanding, the English major has immersed herself in her studies, which provide insight into the human psyche, and she’s become involved on campus. She’s a student coordinator for Join Us in Making Progress (JUMP), a student liaison in the Office of Community Engagement (OCE), the web editor for The Sandspur, a writing consultant at TJ's, and a tour guide for the Office of Admission. Whether in an official role or as a participant, Carlson can be found at most campus events, listening and talking, watching and acting—all in an effort to ensure that her dream for the future is large enough to encompass the dreams of everyone else around her.

What do you perceive to be the most pressing issue that your generation should address?

Apathy. My generation has the ability to do anything–to save the world, to stop world hunger, to finally create world peace. The injustice caused by apathy occurs when people look at something or someone they can benefit and fail to act. No one can or should be forced to make a difference, but, in my mind, the worst injustice is in the number of people who do nothing to help the world around them.

How are you helping to make justice a reality?

I have made an effort to focus everything I do on education. Alone I cannot make justice a reality for everyone; no one is that powerful. However, by talking to those around me, by helping not only plan events with different community partners but by helping bring students to those events, I can open other people’s eyes to what they can do to make justice a reality.

During his “I Have a Dream Speech,” King laid out his dream. What is your dream?

I wish people would live each day as if it were their last day on Earth. What if the human race is going to die in 2012? I simply cannot believe that many people would be happy with where we collectively have failed to go: all of the world problems that people put off solving, all of the changes that could have happened but did not, all of the people whose lives could have been saved or at least made that much better.

How does this dream drive what you’re studying?

I am an English major. At first glance, that does not seem to align with what I dream about doing. After all, how can studying a bunch of often deceased writers’ works make a difference in the world? By studying writings of the past, I can catch a glimpse of not only the events that have influenced where humanity is today, but also the dreams and ideas, the hopes and visions, and the stories, real and fantastical, which have made us human. My dream drives what I study, because through literature, I can begin to understand the people and world around me and how I can make a positive difference on both.

How does your vision influence your involvement?

I make sure that the activities I am involved in all connect back to my vision in some unique way. Everything I am involved in connects back not just to educating others, but also to inspiring them to make their own impact on the world.

Likewise, my involvement constantly influences and shapes my vision. Every time I attend an event through JUMP or OCE, I talk to someone new who is living with a problem that could be solved by my generation. Whether I am talking to a mother of five at the Coalition for the Homeless or one the children at Holiday Funfest, I am always listening to people’s stories. Every new story shifts my vision a little more. Every new person inspires me to make just that much more of a difference.

What advice do you have for students who are interested in becoming involved but aren’t sure where to start?

The biggest part of getting involved is taking that first initiative to talk to someone and start your journey of making a difference. At Rollins, I encourage students to:

Attend an event. If you are interested in a calendar of semester events, check out the online calendar or fliers around campus or feel free to email me at

Stop by OCE. There are always staff members as well as student liaisons on the floor, who would love to talk to you about existing campus service organizations, community partners from a variety of impact areas, and how to get involved with large scale campus events as well.

Go on an Immersion trip. I highly suggest attending at least one immersion experience before you graduate, as these trips allow you to begin to understand the issue and see it from the perspective of those people affected by the problem.

Honoring the life and legacy of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr, MLK Celebration runs January 16-21. Join us in paying homage to King’s work toward equality and economic justice for all people.

By Laura J. Cole

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