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Young Entrepreneur Series – Carolyn’s Compassionate Children

February 9, 2012

Carolyn Rubenstein was 13 years old when Carolyn’s Compassionate Children was invented. Carolyn Rubenstein founded Carolyn’s Compassionate Children in 1999 when she was 13 years old.

Carolyn’s Compassionate Children is a support organization linking critically ill childen and children with life challenges with volunteer teens in schools through letter writing. The organization has since expanded to include organizing annual school supply, holiday letter, and gift drives and awarding college scholarships.

Carolyn Rubenstein is the author of Perseverance, a book that profiles young adults who exemplify resilience in the face of adversity. Now 24 years old, Carolyn is a graduate student pursuing a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at Harvard University. In her free time she practices yoga and spends as much time as she can with her family, her friends, and her dog Lila Rose.

When interviewed by, this is what she had to say about her work:

How did you balance this outreach work at such a young age?
It was a lot of work, but I had very supportive friends and family that helped me out along the way!

Do you have advice for students who would like to get involved with this or other causes?
Yes, definitely try to be involved in as many organizations and causes as you can without disrupting your schoolwork. I truly believe that giving back is an important part of life. You should start by asking your teachers what community service clubs are active at your school and try to get involved!

The organization has evolved into a scholarship program. What brought about this development?
While navigating my own college search, I realized the lack of financial resources for young adult cancer survivors. To provide support to young adult survivors for college, CCC’s College Scholarship Program was created.

How many scholarships have you awarded?
Over 100!

What are some of those students doing now?
Many are now in medical or nursing school. Some are still in college finishing their degrees.

What can teachers do to remove the stigma of cancer or other illnesses for students?

Cancer is just a word. We need to take back the power from this word that has such negative connotations (rightfully so) and put it on the individual. It is just a word. It should not be a word that defines someone.

Teachers can also have their students read my book, Perseverance!  Here is a lesson on overcoming adversity based on the the story of a young cancer survivor’s experience mountain-climbing.

Of all the stories of cancer survival, does one story stay with you the most?
They are each so special and meaningful, it is too hard to pick just one.

I was able to share the story of 20 college cancer survivors in Perseverance!  Zac York’s story is included in the lesson plan available in TeachHUB’s K-12 News section.

What was your most difficult moment working with children with cancer?
Losing someone close to me was a difficult and painful experience to go through. But this person taught me so much. For example:

  • Don’t wait for a crisis to live life to the fullest.
  • Time is precious so don’t put things off. If you want to do something, do it. As Benjamin Franklin says, “Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that’s the stuff life is made of.”
  • Never underestimate our strength as individuals. We are a lot stronger than we give ourselves credit for.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s not a sign of weakness.
  • Never forget to laugh.

At 24, you’re still a young student yourself. What do you plan on doing after graduating with your PhD in Psychology from Harvard?
I plan on continuing my advocacy work and research.

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