Karyn Cave is one of my best college friends. She is a strong women that’s part of my circle by way of Hamline University. For a while in college we were basically inseparable.  Oh, the laughs, important talks, snacks, and side eyes we’ve shared. . . . I have so much love for this amazing woman.

Karyn is warm, creative, fun, compassionate, thoughtful, and body-positive.

Karyn is from Colorado and came to MN for college where she majored in English and Sociology. (Another sociology major - or minors - in my life!) After college, she worked for Playworks and, then, as a Special Education Assistant for Minneapolis Public Schools.  Now, she’s a full time grad student getting her Masters in Social Work at the University of Minnesota.  

Karyn lives in Minneapolis with her finance, Margot, and their cat, Socks. I haven’t seen their new home yet – I cannot wait to see it this summer! Karyn loves Zumba, natural hair, laughing fits, biking, and bubbly water.

Oh, the memories I have made with Karyn. . .At Hamline we were involved in some of the typical leadership gigs together - Orientation Leaders, working for the McVay Youth Partnership, Women’s Leadership retreats, and working at the Student Center Front Desk.  Some highlights of our college antics include seeing the amazing India.Arie in concert together, attending Women’s Leadership Retreats (yes, mentioned twice – it’s that important), some amazing but epic fails of nights out, day drinking, spending time on our fav 3rd floor library couch during finals, and working on our fitness. 

To this day, Karyn is my favorite work out buddy. For a while, we would work out several times a week early in the morning. (Ok, like 7AM!) We had a system- She would call me to make sure I was up. I would walk from my place to her’s and then we would groggily make our way across campus to the gym. Our workouts were mostly just chatting while we walked the track and then doing dorky partner stretches (the cutest, right?), but it as a great excuse to move our bods and enjoy quality time together. For a brief time we also went to the local LA Fitness which just resulted in lots of amazing and awkward incidents including an aquafit class where another participant thought that Karyn was my daughter. (I know. . .what?!)

And, “the people”! Karyn and I always joke about how people are wonderful and amazing but sometimes, when they are in crowds or there are lots of them around, we’d prefer to just avoid them and be at home eating taco dip instead. 

Whenever I’m back in Minnesota I always see Karyn and Margot. Trips home wouldn’t be the same without catching up with them. They welcome me into their home every time and I always feel so comfortable at their place. (And, not just because I get to cuddle with Socks on their ultra-comfy futon.) And, in between visits, I love our facetime catch-ups!

Karyn is one of the folks in my life who is deeply committed to social justice. I admire her path to pursuing her Masters in Social Work as I am sure she will use that position to continue making positive impacts on the lives of others. I also admire Karyn’s creativity and artistic eye. Two collages she has made decorate my office at work.

I also love that two of my closest friends have become partners. They are role models of a healthy and happy relationship – and I couldn’t be happier for them. They’re getting married this summer and I am excited for their beautiful, joyous occasion. Related, I also daydream about us both having babies around the same time so they can hang out together (or, I guess that’s called play dates?) and we can have the most radical children surrounded by amazing, strong women in their lives.  

Read what and who inspire Karyn as well as her advice below. . .

What inspires you & what do you care about deeply?

“Being around and feeling connected to people I love and admire inspires me.  This includes friends, family, mentors, communities of color, queer communities and so on.  Also, working with youth and witnessing their resilience and potential inspires me.  On the flip side, investing in my health and practicing self-care inspires me to keep doing the work I do.  Moving my body to music, biking around the cities and journaling keeps me sane.”

“I’m fiercely passionate about social justice.  I am committed to enriching lives by empowering people in efforts to create a just society. This is why I am studying social work.  Social work aims to create a safe environment to hone knowledge and life skills of individuals.  It’s a field that’s grounded in community, action, dialogue and other values that ultimately guide people’s successes.  This is what I want to do.”

Who are women in your life or through history that inspire you?

“My fiancé is a woman who deeply inspires me to be my best self everyday.  Her support and encouragement means the world to me.  Her loving spirit and sense of humor inspires me everyday.”

“My mother inspires me to care deeply about loved ones through compassionate actions.  This is the kind of love she shows me.  Every now and then I see a bit of my mother pop up in my words or thoughts.  It used to freak me out but now I embrace it.”

“And of course there is Auntie, in all her stubbornness and quirky idiosyncrasies.  She inspires to me never apologize for who I am.”

What advice would you give your younger self? 

“Embrace your natural curls and curves!  Your hair is perfect.  Back away from the relaxer.  Your thighs are beautiful.  Yes, your butt is big and that's okay!  If you wanna shave, then shave.  If you don't, then don't!  After years of self-deprecation, I learned to love myself the way I am.”


This March, I am celebrating all the amazing women around me! Sharing women who have influenced me and make up my personal history. As the month goes on, you can see all my Inspiring Women posts here!