A 2013 graduate of Glastonbury High School, Caroline Karwoski this fall will enter her second season as a member of the New England Patriots cheer squad. Photo credit: Mark Johnson
Ten years ago, Caroline Karwoski was an aspiring model and a student athlete on the cheerleading team at Glastonbury High School.
A decade later, Karwoski is living out both of her childhood fantasies on the biggest stages.
The 2013-GHS graduate is currently working for Wilhelmina Models as a full-time model in New York City, and this fall she will be entering her second season on the sidelines as a member of the New England Patriots cheerleading squad in Foxboro, Mass.
“It’s truly amazing. I could never have imagined I’d be working my two dream jobs,” said Karwoski.
At age 12, Karwoski began learning the ropes in the developmental program at JC Models of Connecticut in Rocky Hill. It is there where she learned how to walk the runway, present herself in front of the camera, conduct an interview, and many of the other complex nuances of modeling.
“I was always interested in modeling ever since I was young. What inspired me was that I always loved to be in the spotlight when I was little and I definitely loved to be on camera,” said Karwoski, who began performing in local malls and working bridal expos shows.
Following her high school graduation, the Glastonbury native put her cheerleading career on hold to attend the University of Massachusetts Amherst where she got a degree in economics before beginning a career in cyber security.
After a few years, Karwoski realized that a job behind the scenes was not for her. She left her nine-to-five gig and channeled all of her energy into a full-time modeling career.
JC Models - Karwoski's original or "mother" modeling agency - helped her sign with Wilhelmina, a New York City-based modeling and talent agency, in April of 2021, and her modeling career began to take off. She has since modeled for several large companies including, Life is Good, Lucky Brand Jeans, Moroccan Oil, Party City, and BJ’s Wholesale Club.
At the same time her modeling career was blossoming, she decided to revisit her other passion and tried out for the Patriots, making the team before the 2021 season.
Since she was already familiar with the Bay State, Karwoski said, “I thought it was a perfect opportunity to get involved with my community and get back into the sport that I loved so much. It’s been amazing”
Karwoski now lives in New York City, working in the Big Apple during the week, and making the long commute to Gillette Stadium on the weekends for promotional appearances and for game days.
She said it’s a lot of traveling, but added, “I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
Being a full-time model and a professional cheerleader is the payoff for many setbacks that she said shaped her into the person she is today.
At 16-years old, she auditioned to be a Wilhelmina model and was not selected.
Looking back, she said the disappointment and the decade of waiting allowed her to appreciate what she has now.
“Success doesn’t happen overnight,” said Karwoski. “It took ten years of growth, confidence building, and practice.”
She added that she could write a book about the lesson that she has learned during her journey.
"Something I used to do when I was younger was wait to try something because I wanted my attempt to be perfect and I was so afraid of failing," she said. "I was willing to not try just to avoid failure or embarrassment and now I realize that in doing so I may have missed out on a lot of amazing opportunities. It’s those failures and mistakes that help you learn.”
Karwoski's perseverance and willingness to reach for the stars has landed her atop her professional peaks.
She credits her "mother agent" and mentor at JC Models, Tina Kiniry, for pushing her with her blunt, honest, and diligent approach.
“Tina is one of the hardest working people I know, and is living proof that good things come to those who get up and make it happen,” said Karwoski. “She has supported my career since I was 12 and always had my back.”
Things have come full circle for Karwoski, who now also works as a talent agent for JC Models of Connecticut, helping aspiring models and actors pursue their dreams.
She added that the modeling industry sometimes gets a bad perception as cutthroat, but that has not been her experience.
“I love working both of these jobs because I am constantly surrounded by such powerful women that really lift each other up and cheer each other on,” said Karwoski. “What you'll notice is that you’ll become so much more successful when you are cheering each other on.”
Karwoski added that both the modeling and cheerleading community is tight-knit; she said the same thing when speaking about her experience growing up in Glastonbury.
She attributes some of her professional success to the strong support system in her hometown.
“I loved growing up in Glastonbury and being on the Glastonbury cheerleading team gave me a great advantage when I was trying out [for the Patriots]. Mainly because of all the leadership skills they taught us and how to be a great teammate and how to support one another,” said Karwoski. “I think a lot of the skills I learned at GHS I was able to apply to my audition afterwards.”
For more information or to follow Karwoski’s journey, follow her on Instagram @carolinekarwoski and look for her on the sidelines of the New England Patriots games this fall.
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Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin