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Like many of her fellow underclassmen, her first two years at Eastern Kentucky University were filled with general education courses, club and sorority life, and, for good measure, a few Student Life bingo wins.

Then came Caroline Stuhr’s personal evolution. She “hunkered down,” served an internship, started her upper-level courses in computer information systems (CIS) and began work on an Honors thesis that ultimately did far more than merely fulfill an academic obligation.

“Things were getting more serious as the real world was gradually approaching,” she recalled. “This was also a time when I began to feel uncertain in the direction of my career path. I was one of a few females – or, in some instances, the only female – in my CIS classes, and I felt intimidated. I started to question my capabilities in being a woman entering a male-dominated field.”

Fortunately, she was able to transfer all her anxieties into something tangible: an Honors thesis that researched why women in IT are underrepresented in the classroom and in the workplace. After Stuhr surveyed more than 150 women from the IT profession, “it gave me solace to know I was not alone. Throughout their careers in IT, many have faced various barriers, but seldom let any stop them from their pursuits.”

Freshly inspired, Stuhr went on to recently graduate magna cum laude as an Honors Scholar and address her classmates as the student speaker for the College of Business and Technology spring commencement ceremony. Also at the ceremony on May 10, she received a bachelor’s of business administration degree in computer information systems with a concentration in network management and a minor in international business.

“I presented my thesis with pride,” Stuhr said. “It gave me the boost I needed to take on my future rather than shy away from it.”

Stuhr needed that newfound confidence as she studied abroad in Austria this past summer. “To say this (study abroad) experience contributed to my personal evolution would be an understatement,” she said. “I studied some, made new friends, ate new foods and found myself seeing the world in a whole new light.”

While at Eastern, the 2015 graduate of Ryle High School in Union, Kentucky, also was a member of the Order of Omega Greek honor society and the Beta Gamma Sigma business honor society. She served this past year as treasurer of the Student Activities Council and was a member of Chi Omega. In Spring 2018, she completed an internship with Software Masters Inc., and was named Outstanding Intern of the Year by EKU’s Career and Co-op Office.

“We have molded our futures here, and it is now time we embrace them,” Stuhr said in concluding her commencement remarks. “Whether our futures include venturing out into the unknown or moving into our parents’ basement, we are always evolving. Success may not come easy, but if we remember our roots and plan for the future, as we continue to evolve, it will be within reach.”