By Brendan Shriver, Duke Sports Information Intern
DURHAM, N.C.-- Virginia Elena Carta, a rising senior from Italy, is already very successful on the golf course. Some of her biggest accomplishments during her three years at Duke include winning the NCAA Individual Championship, being selected as the National Player of the Year by the Honda Sports Award for Golf, being selected First Team All-America by WGCA and Golfweek and honored as All-ACC each of her three seasons.
Although Carta is very good on the golf course, it’s what she does off the course that makes her even more successful in life.
Carta founded a fundraising program called Birdies for Babies this past year, with proceeds going to the Duke Children’s Neonatal and Pediatric Intensive Care Units. This program is designed to support babies who struggle to support themselves. Those that wanted to support the team’s partnership with the hospital would pledge $0.50 for every birdie made during the course of the season, with higher amounts welcome and they could also choose whether they wanted to donate for part of the season or the entire season.
The results were satisfying. The goal was to make $10,000. They exceeded that, reaching $10,565, with 510 birdies over the course of the 2017-18 campaign.
It was a huge accomplishment that the program was able to meet its goal in just a few number of months. She was very happy with the results.
“It’s pretty impressive what we were able to achieve this semester,” commented Carta. “It just started in January and in four or five months we were able to get up to more than $10,000 for the children’s hospital. It’s very special to reach this goal that we set at the beginning of the semester and hopefully it will be the same in the coming semesters.”
She has a pretty good idea of what she would like to see from the project next year as well.
“I think many other teams could join and make their own project that helps the children’s hospital,” commented Carta. “It doesn’t have to be just us. It could be more of an athletic department effort. It’s good that we got it started so that we set an example.”
She also sees the project moving forward over the next few years.
“I’ll be a senior, so I’m going to be here,” said Carta. “The program is going to keep helping the hospital. I can’t thank enough for the donors because without them, this project wouldn’t exist. I am very impressed with everybody’s dedication. It’s very amazing.”
On the golf course, Carta’s season featured a lot of ups and downs, as she dealt with sickness and injuries in the spring season, but she got healthy and closed the season with a strong finish, all because of her teammates.
“It was definitely a very difficult season like last year, where I was injured for most of it,” said Carta. “It was very hard to start the spring season in April right before ACC’s. But this team was very supportive and we really got along with each other. That helped me get back into play and not needing so much time to actually play better.”
Carta was also impressed with how her team performed after she returned.
“It was nice to win the ACC Championship and regionals,” added Carta. “We definitely wish we won nationals as a team. We got close but I think we did very amazing things this spring, whether I was playing or not. The team was very good.”
Finally, Carta was happy about her performances at the end of the semester but always wished she could have played better at the tournament that matters most, the national championship.
“I definitely didn’t play nationals as well as I wanted,” commented Carta. “The match play portion I played well, but I wished I could have helped the team more in the stroke play.”
Carta has come a long way from when she was a freshman, when she won the national championship. Now she is a senior. Being a senior for some athletes is a big deal, as they look to take on a leadership role.
“It’s flown by; I can’t believe I’m a senior,” said Carta. “It’s very exciting. I’ve been looking forward to this moment. You don’t have to be a senior to be a leader on the team but it’s a good position to be a senior and create a really good atmosphere for the incoming freshman and make sure that they settle in and that we start the season strong.”
Carta also said that the team is good enough to win the national championship next year.
“It seems like yesterday I won the national championship as a freshman, but I think we can win as a team next year,” added Carta. “We have the potential to do it so it’s going to be important to set the tone on the first day that we are back on campus and make sure that everybody is on the same page that we really want to win next year. It’s going to be a lot of leadership not just from me, but from the whole team and making sure that everyone feels comfortable with each other and that we have a good bond.”
Finally, instead of spending most of the summer on the golf course, Carta will be in the office for the next three months. She is performing an internship in Switzerland and is very excited for this opportunity.
“I’ve played golf in the summer since I was 12,” said Carta. “Every single summer for the whole summer I would do this. Last summer, I was home for only five to 10 days. All the summers have been very long just playing golf so I’m excited for a switch, even if I have different ideas for my future, which also involves turning pro. I’m excited to have a different summer and see what the United Nations are like. It’s a great organization and I’m going to learn a lot of things that will help me with my career and life later on.”
Her employer is located in Geneva, Switzerland, and she will be working for The CITES Secretariat. Her job responsibilities include helping with research, governing bodies and meeting with the scientific service team to help prepare with meetings, etc.
Carta chose to intern with the company as a way to land a potential job later on in her life and just to have options other than golf.
“Golf might be an option for me and might be an option right after college but I’ve played golf for such a long time, so I am very interested in looking out for opportunities such as working in big organizations like the United Nations,” added Carta.
“That’s why this internship will offer me a great opportunity to work with a very exciting Secretariat like CITES. It’s very interesting and we’ll get to know everybody on the first day of work. I’m looking forward to be there on June 1 and getting started.”
Since she will be living there for three months. The internship is also a great opportunity to spend some time in Switzerland, a country where she hasn’t been to very often in her life.
“I’ve played a few tournaments in Switzerland and I visited Geneva when I was much younger, so I don’t remember Geneva all that well,” said Carta. “It’s a very cool city and I’m looking forward to it.”
Finally, she hopes to do one other thing this summer: watch one of her teammates play.
“Hopefully, I’ll be going to watch Jaravee at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in France,” Carta said.