Girls Inc. of Greater Indianapolis would be nothing without the girls themselves – girls who inspire, work hard, and dream big every day. One Girls Inc. girl who really inspires us is Courtney Clark. Courtney grew up attending Girls Inc. programs and activities. Now, she’s a senior at IUPUI, studying finance. She gave back to the organization which she loves by speaking at our Touchstone Luncheon in July. Here is her speech, in which she details the importance of Girls Inc.:
“My name is Courtney Clark, and Girls Inc. has been a part of my life for a very long time. It has impacted me in ways that are almost indescribable. I attended summer camp at Girls Inc. for many consecutive summers throughout my childhood, leading on into my teen years, and I’m so fortunate now to work for Girls Inc. and be able to teach the same programs that were once taught to me, to girls all around this city.
When I think back to my many, many summers spent at Girls Inc. I remember hand-clapping games like slide, I remember talks about boys and clothes, and Chris Brown’s first album playing in the background on repeat. I apologize to any of the Girls Inc. staff that had to endure that. I remember swimming every Friday, talent shows, and countless field trips.
I also remember all of the fantastic programs I was able to participate in as girl. Learning basic words in Spanish and German, taking self-defense, learning to write poetry, taking yoga classes, hip-hop lessons, and the list goes on and on, but one program sticks out for me more than all the rest. It was called Money Smarts. See, during this program, we girls were able to become entrepreneurs of sorts. During camp we were able to break up into groups and develop a business plan to sell a good or service to the younger girls in the camp, as well as our camp counselors. So my business team and I formed and started to plan what we thought was a million dollar idea. See, the other girls were planning to do nails or give massages, sell bracelets, but we thought we had the best idea. As hot as it was in the middle of July, we couldn’t think of anything better than selling slushies, and boy did we make a lot a Girl Bucks that day. Girl Bucks are the official Girls Inc. currency if you were unaware.
I remember what it was like to work in that team. I remember how it felt to create that business plan and be able to execute our creative ideas. I also remember how good it felt when our product sold. I was about 10 then. Well I’m 20 now, and I’m a senior at IUPUI majoring in Finance through the Kelley School of Business with a minor in Public and Nonprofit Financial Management. Long story short, I love Finance, and I love business. I didn’t know it then at 10, but I see now that Girls Inc. planted a seed for me to cultivate and grow then, to help me find my place in the world right now.
My love for business is not the only lesson I learned from Girls Inc. When I had to start taking speech classes in school, I remember learning the proper way to debate because of Girls Inc. And when I was 15 and my acne was uncontrollable and puberty was getting the best of me and I didn’t like myself, I remembered from our workshops on self-esteem that I was strong, smart, and bold, and that I was beautiful no matter what. And now when I go to a school to teach, there are so many days where I leave the girls and wonder, “Did they learn more from me today, or did I learn more from them?” Through their amazing programs, Girls Inc. laid a foundation in me. To be a great student, friend, woman, mentor, and member of society in general. Girls Inc. has been helping me grow since I was 6 years old, and is still helping me grow now. Thank You.”
Girls Inc. helps girls like Courtney discover their passions, pursue their academic goals, and realize their self worth. It is wonderful to hear her specific story because it shows clearly what Girls Inc. does and why it is important in the community. Girls Inc. encourages girls to be strong, smart, and bold so that they can grow into fantastic, compassionate, and dedicated women who can make a difference in the world.