Kortnee joined C/FORWARD in 11th grade, when she transferred into New Roads School, one of the schools founded by the Coalition for Engaged Education. At her previous school, though it was known as a progressive independent school, Kortnee said she had felt "targeted and honestly stifled as a creative, intuitive being." Upon entering New Roads, Kortnee was connected with Kelly, now Vice President of the Coalition, who Kortnee calls "my number one supporter since."
Kelly arranged for tutors to support Kortnee in all subjects that involved numeracy, including history, math, and chemistry. But more than that, Kortnee says, "she has actually cared deeply for my wellbeing, and I have always felt it to be genuine."
"When I graduated from New Roads," Kortnee remembers, "I didn't really know what I wanted to do. I knew what I was good at, and I knew what piqued my interest, but I didn't know how to manifest those skills and interests. I applied to Parsons, Paris, a year after graduation, and when I told Kelly what I was doing, she got me private art lessons so my portfolio was at its best."
"When I was accepted, Kelly gave me clothes for my move abroad. She came to my first fashion show. Through financial assistance from C/FORWARD, I have been able to get my sewing machines fixed and pay for my school books. "
"Kelly is the gift that keeps on giving, and I am so thankful. She has been with me through a lot of ups and downs without any judgment or anger. Although I have upset her many times, she still has my back."
Currently, Kortnee is working on a luxury lifestyle brand called Fitzgerald & Rose. Based in Los Angeles, the brand is custom/handmade kimonos made of leather, silk, and other fine fabrics. Having recently turned 25, Kortnee is making great strides to follow her dreams as a professional designer. Within the year she will receive her Associate of Arts degree and continue to pursue her long-term goals—to be an entrepreneur, either independently or with a partner. She wants to continue to travel and is exploring the possibilities for business ventures both in the U.S. and throughout the world.
"I am forever grateful, because I'm surrounded by inspiring, beautiful, loving, selfless people."