By Gwen McNamara, Special Writer

Harry S. Truman said: Men make history, not the other way around. Well, at the Ivy Club it’s now a woman’s turn. Caroline Shifke ’12 is serving as the Undergraduate President for the Ivy Club – the first woman to do so. At a time when the Ivy Club is embarking on a new Leadership Program to demonstrate the strength of leadership and cultivate tomorrow’s leaders, Caroline’s time at the helm represents an important milestone for the Club and illustrates the benefits of the organization’s focus on diverse and outstanding individuals. “Becoming President has meant different things,” said Caroline. “To me it’s about taking on a leadership position at an organization I care deeply about. To others it has had a broader impact. Overall though it’s exciting to be President in and of itself.”

The Next Step

Since becoming co-ed in the early 1990s, the Ivy Club has welcomed hundreds of women through its doors. Over time, several female members made in-rows as undergraduate officers, but never before as President. Christine Williams ’92 was among the first women to be a part of the Club. “I rode crew and a huge number of male rowers belonged to the Ivy, so a group of female rowers and I bickered together,” she said. “It was a great experience. We were treated … like family.” She fondly remembers fitting in – like donning a tie to smoke cigars on cigar night. “Our experience might not have been the norm, but we didn’t rock the boat much,” she said. “I really do have wonderful memories, cherished memories and am grateful for the experience.” The fact that the Ivy Club has elected its first woman president doesn’t shock Ms. Williams. “From a historic perspective it’s exciting, but I’m not at all surprised,” she said. “It’s the next step for the Club. I liken it to Obama being elected – our country took that next step. It’s good to see that a woman is now leading the Club.”

Family Ties The second of four children, Caroline grew up in Manhattan. Her parents met in law school at Tulane and then moved to New York City, where they have been ever since. Growing up part of a big family within a big city only pulled Caroline closer to her family members, as they each provided great support for each other. She relayed a story of playing baseball when she was young – when it came time to split the girls to head to a softball team she didn’t want to go. She wanted to stay and play baseball with the boys. Her parents stood by her and still do today, along with her siblings, which include her older brother Jonathan ’10 (Ivy Club Undergraduate President 2009-2010), a younger brother at Duke University and younger sister in high school. This close-knit circle of support has helped Caroline shape her leadership style. Not a “top down” dictator, she strives to have personal relationships with each member at Ivy to gain their respect and support. Actively involved in most facets of Club life, she aims to motivate by example and create a collective spirit to inspire others.

Looking Ahead

As president, Caroline is focused on ensuring that the Club secures another strong bicker class and that the process is a smooth, open discussion among current members. She and her officers want members to feel comfortable to stand up for their thoughts, even when theirs is a minority opinion. “The Club’s membership is an important part of what makes it such a remarkable institution,” she said. “I hope to do my part in keeping the Ivy the special, welcoming home that it is for so many by preserving our traditions and values.”