Born in Rio Grand do Sul Brazil, Carolina and her family immigrated to the U.S where she later earned a BS degree in Philosophy from the University of Utah. She has a great appreciation for diverse cultures, ethnicities, and religious world views, which she learned first from her parents and five siblings. She is a dynamic speaker and has had the opportunity to participate in various international conferences including the Women of the Mountains Conference, World Congress of families, and the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. She is a grassroots organizer and believes in the power of many voices working together to grow the good. She loves to engage with others in meaningful dialogue and discussion and has lead and participated in many thriving community cooperatives. As a fluent trilingual, she has taught classes in Portuguese, Spanish, as well as Civic Engagement and philosophy. She and her husband are homeschool enthusiasts and parents to six budding artists, athletes, and young scholars. She is an avid soccer fan and had a brief career as a semi-professional player.
“I’m a mom.” These were Carolina Allen’s first words when asked to describe herself. Carolina is a mother of six children, and motherhood is one of her great passions, but while she thinks of herself as an ordinary person, most people who know her would not think to describe her like that. Carolina loves to read, though it is hard to find time to read the books that would stretch her mind as she would like, but she enjoys reading good books aloud to her children. She might be found in her garden, with her sweetheart of a dog, tending to their chickens, or riding her bike around the neighborhood with her children. Carolina might also be found protesting injustice, attending pro-family conferences, or at the UN working to give voice to women who value faith and family.
Carolina is the oldest of six children. She and her first three siblings were born in Brazil. Her parents took their family to Bolivia then to the United States when she was six years old and the youngest child was nine months old. An aunt had moved to Utah previously and was able to sponsor the family. Coming to the United States of America, though the process was long and difficult, provided Carolina’s family with incredible opportunity that she insists wouldn’t have been available to them in Brazil. When they came, nobody knew English. The little kids learned it first and would translate for their parents. This made things difficult, but the family learned to rely on each other and work together. While they didn’t have much in the way of material things, the house was full of love. Carolina remembers friends always wanting to come to her house because her mother always made homemade food. Their home was always open to other people, and her parents would reach out to help other immigrants.
Everyone did odd jobs, and Carolina recognizes that it was a burden on her parents, like so many immigrants, to not only provide for the family, but also to navigate American culture and customs. One vivid memory Carolina has is of going to school and seeing most of the children had brown paper bag lunches. She ate the hot lunch provided at school, but wanted to be like the other children. The problem, as she saw it in her child’s mind, was that she didn’t know where the brown paper bags came from. Finally, she could stand it no longer and worked up the courage to ask a friend where to buy brown bags. Her friend told her, simply, that they were just at the store. This did not solve the problem because she still didn’t know where at the store the bags would be, nor would she be able to pack a sack lunch. Being in a new land with an unfamiliar “normal,” the desire for and confusion about the brown paper bag lunches is just one example of a million little things that they had to figure out.
Carolina remembers her mom extending herself, probably over-extending herself, to make sure her kids had what they needed. She saw how her parents’ relationship was strained because of the challenges. She recalls, “They got tired, but they never gave up.” She further explained that their devotion to Jesus Christ kept them together, and she has “nothing but gratitude for her parents.”
As a first generation immigrant, and a child of first generation immigrants, Carolina feels it is important to recognize the important contributions that immigrants and their families make. In her association through her church and community, she saw families where parents would work multiple jobs to get ahead. Through the sacrifices they see their parents making, she explained, “Children of immigrants are taught to do the best they can and are growing up to be doctors and lawyers – they are trying to have the American dream!”
When Carolina started college she was a pre-architecture major. She was newly married and taking very difficult design classes that were requiring so much of her time that she felt she was living at the college. When she had to take a required philosophy class, she felt it was “a breath of fresh air.” As she continued to take philosophy classes she was able to think, write, and begin to learn how to articulate what was in her heart. She says she developed a sense of discernment and her faith was anchored because it was challenged. When she considered changing her major, she was met with much resistance from well-meaning friends who pointed out that there wasn’t a lot of money to be made in philosophy. Her husband, however, was very supportive and told her she should do what she loved. They took turns going to school and were able to both graduate without any student debt. That support from her husband meant so much to her then.
Carolina’s husband continues to be supportive of her endeavors. Because he is a professor, he has a lot of flexibility in his schedule. Carolina is at home, full time, and homeschools five of her six children. Their oldest is in high school for the first time. Their family views Big Ocean not as a job that Carolina has, but as part of a bigger calling that is hers. It hasn’t always been like that, and there have been struggles, but the family has had to work together as Carolina has worked to create the organization that is Big Ocean – Women for Faith, Family, and Motherhood.
Carolina says, “I just think there is so much good that we can do. I’m limited in what I can do as an individual, but when we are united with other women, there is so much more that we can do.” The vision she has of Big Ocean is that of a global sisterhood of women who work to do good and bond with each other as women of light. Speaking of the role Big Ocean can play in the world, she explained further, “As time goes on, the problems seem to get starker in contrast, so we want to belong to a group of people of light that can work together to create the type of changes in the world we want to see happen. I hope in the future that Big Ocean will be a very, very powerful tool that women can use to feel empowered, that cottages will dot the world, and we’ll have a common language – different tongues, but we’ll speak heart to heart, and we’ll create visible change in the world. Children will be protected, marriage will be honored. Men and women will work together and elevate the status of women. The ideas and sisterhood are more powerful than the organization at bringing the changes to the world.”
At the end of each day, this powerful woman with vision and leadership that could change the whole world, maintains what she is most concerned about is her own family. Family is her source of joy, and she wants most to create a safe place of light for her children and be a safe place for others.
Written by Lisa Bjornberg