Photo Courtesy of Kaci Courtright
“I know a lot of my friends struggled growing up with low self-esteem, caring about what everyone else thought. It’s really how you view yourself — I grew up thinking, ‘I’m pretty cool for who I am; I really like who I am.’ And I wouldn’t want to change for anything.”
Born and raised in “The Windy City” of Chicago, Kaci Courtright attributes the values that define her today to the experiences she shared with her family over the years.
“My mom’s side of the family — we all live in the same town. We’re all five minutes from each other. So wherever we go, they go. We’ve always gone to the same church, too. We all practice together. We all get together for family events, for vacations, even for work. [They are] very supportive, both financially and emotionally. If we ever needed help, they’d be there. If they ever needed help, we’d be there.”
Courtright is now looking toward a career in marketing and communications, but she once had very different plans.
“I used to want to go into ministry. I used to want to be a youth minister. I wanted to stay in the church. I wanted to marry a pastor and have a cute little family.”
Despite this change of plans, Courtright is grateful for the unconditional support of her parents in whatever she chooses to pursue. She grew up in an environment that valued faith, giving back and confidence.
As the oldest child, these values continue to become more and more prominent as she strives to be a good mentor to her younger siblings.
“I feel a very strong need to be a good role model for them, because, well, my parents already tell me that they look up to me, but I see it.”
Courtright considers her most admirable quality to be her genuineness. Though she always recognized her desire to be authentic growing up, she began to fully live it out upon coming to Pepperdine.
“It definitely started growing up. But I did not fully act this way until coming to Pepperdine actually. It wasn’t really a trigger, it’s just that going through high school with a lot of fake people, I realized that I did not want to be that. I wanted to find some real people.”
And fortunately, after persevering through the challenging transition from life in the Midwest to college on the West Coast, she seemed to find what she was searching for.
“Pepperdine still has its cliques, just like high school. It’s still relatively small. But I did not have a solid group of friends for two months, and so once I found them, I was able to really be myself. They really helped with that a lot. And I’m glad I didn’t have friends for two months because now I know that this group of friends I have now are the ones that will probably stay my friends throughout college.”
So sincere and unwavering is Courtright’s character, in fact, that most everyone around her takes notice. Both friends and strangers express appreciation for her demeanor of such substance and authenticity.
“A lot of people compliment me on this lately, and I’m taking this as a sign, to somehow use this for the future. But whether I’m with an Uber driver, with my family, meeting strangers or talking to alumni, everyone’s like, ‘You’re so genuine and I believe every word that you’re saying.’ And there’s a lot of power in that. There’s a lot of power.”
And, always remembering the value of giving back that her family once embedded in her, she plans to use this power for the better, to serve those near and far.
“I want to be able to give my future family the same opportunities that I have, and then give back to my current family all that they’ve given me.”
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