Spreading the Passion to Exceed

Posted: July 9, 2013 at 5:00 am, Last Updated: July 11, 2013 at 7:22 am

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By Rashad Mulla

Korinn Carter

Korinn Y. Carter. Photo courtesy of Korinn Y. Carter

Korinn Y. Carter, BA ’13, psychology, wrapped up her academic career in three busy, packed years. The winner of the 2013 Dean’s Distinction for Public Service, Superior Contribution, in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS) came to George Mason University with a set of goals in mind.

An advocate for public service, community building and strong families, the Richmond native picked up research and career experience at George Mason and other organizations:  Mason’s Child Development Center, Center for Psychological Services and Sexual Assault Services; Howard University Hospital’s Cancer Center; and the Hope, Unity and Freedom Center in Richmond.

Carter spent her college career exceeding expectations, and now she wants other young women to do the same.

In December 2011, Carter founded Chase Dreams, Not Boys (CDNB), a student organization focused on empowering young minority women between the ages of 12 and 17. CDNB members work with local middle schools and high schools to provide consistent interaction with and programming for the area’s young minority women. The CDNB members visit their assigned schools once or twice a week and build relationships with the younger students, discussing topics such as college applications, resumes, character, confidence, self-worth and self-esteem.

For Carter, CDNB’s mission is of utmost importance. She was raised primarily by her father (her mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis), and his lessons on focus, confidence and initiative rang in her ears at every turn. Carter credits her father with instilling in her some of the values that helped her succeed.

“A positive influence in one’s life is very important, because without a positive person or model to emulate, there are no goals and there is no direction,” she says. “A lot of the [students] don’t set goals, which they see as unattainable or impossible. Having minority female college students from Mason go out into these communities uplifts the younger students and lets them know that they can go farther.”

Carter has always believed in hard work, and launching CDNB certainly called for it. She spent many hours getting the organization established at Mason, building support for it and attracting a committed member base. Now, the organization works smoothly. In the fall, CDNB will open a second chapter at Old Dominion University in Norfolk. Carter’s goal is to have a chapter in every university in the United States.

But the successes she cherishes most come from the students CDNB serves every week.

“When a little girl comes up to me and says she wants to be just like me when she grows up, I tell her, ‘You don’t want to be just like me, you want to be better,’” Carter says. “When we follow up with teachers and administrators and find out that our work has resulted in a positive change — in confidence, in behavior, in attitude, anything — that’s the type of feedback we live for.”

Carter’s passion for giving back to the community was recognized through the CHSS award.

“Korinn gave the award committee a clear understanding of her character, her motivation and her goals,” says Katie Clare, assistant dean of undergraduate academic affairs for the college. “Not only did she create Chase Dreams, Not Boys, but she voiced clear plans for how to further develop the initiative in the future. It was clear to the committee that public service was not merely an extracurricular activity for her, but a way of life.”

In the fall, Carter will begin work on a master’s degree in couple and family therapy at the University of Maryland. She wants to become a marriage and family counselor, and she believes the degree will help her achieve new heights with CDNB.

“I push myself so hard so I can take care of everyone one day, and also motivate other girls to feel the same way,” she says. “I want other girls to have that same hustle and grind to make things happen for themselves and not to hope someone else makes it happen for them.”

She adds, “I came here with a purpose, and I plan to live that purpose.”

This article was previously published in a slightly different format on the CHSS website.

Write to Robin Herron at rherron@gmu.edu

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