DURHAM, N.C. — Carlee Goldberg will be a senior at Duke University this fall. The Parkland, Florida native was named a 2021 Truman Scholar in April for her advocacy on gun violence and juvenile justice.
Goldberg was a senior at a neighboring high school, North Broward Preparatory School, when a gunman opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on the afternoon of Feb. 14, 2018, killing 17 people and injuring an additional 17.
“I remember leaving, and they had to lock down the school, I remember checking in with friends and trying to make sure everyone was accounted for, and we could find them,” Goldberg said.
Goldberg said that her brother graduated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School two years before the shooting and attended the middle school that fed into Stoneman Douglas.
“I knew a few students who were killed, who I knew in middle or elementary school, I knew of them because it was a small town,” Goldberg said.
When she arrived at Duke University that fall, Goldberg hit the ground running with her advocacy and research into gun violence and juvenile justice.
“I was really interested in the research behind gun violence,” Goldberg said.
Her work began when she moderated and helped organize a panel her freshman year that consisted of experts in gun violence. Goldberg also became a research assistant at the law school’s Center for Firearms Law, Juvenile Delinquents and Adult Gun Law study program.
“I was always aware of it prior to the shooting, gun violence was a pandemic before it happened. I had done a bunch of debates before it, especially when the shooting happened, and with a lot of the civic engagement that came after, it perfectly aligned I saw the opportunity to get involved,” Goldberg explained.
Before the mass shooting, Goldberg knew she wanted to pursue a career in public service and government. Still, the tragedy in Parkland only solidified her decision to focus on gun violence and juvenile justice.
“It’s almost impossible to grapple with the terms when there is a mass shooting,” Goldberg said.
Goldberg said; unfortunately, it’s a very common and very familiar feeling for many people.
“I think you need to focus on how does a community rebuild and come back from those experiences and how do you prevent this from happening again,” Goldberg said.
Goldberg joined the Triangle Debate League, which works in partnership with Duke and UNC students. They create debate leagues at local high schools in the area that teach students how to write speeches, research, and argue topics they are passionate about. They then go on to compete against other high school debate teams around the state.
The Truman Scholarship award is given to students for their leadership, outstanding academic achievement, and commitment to public service and advocacy careers.
In 2021, 845 students were nominated from 328 colleges and universities around the country. Each recipient is given funding for graduate programs, leadership training, career counseling, and a special internship and fellowship within the federal government.