Girls Inc. participant Terri Wright honored Mical Traynor, executive director at Chattanooga Women’s Leadership Institute
Girls Inc. participant Komal Patri honored Dr. Neslihan Alp, engineering management and technology department head at UTC’s College of Engineering and Computer Science
Girls Inc. participant Jahlah Johnson honored Nancy Ridge, a retired program director.
Girls Inc. participant A’Keia Colley honored Carol George, the market executive for Tennessee Valley Merrill Lynch.
Girls Inc. participant Yarelis Forte honored Sharon Braden, a regional business development manager at Thompson Engineering.
Girls Inc. participant Hadessah O’Neal honored Lynne Mulligan, an educator in language arts and social studies at St. Nicholas School.
Girls Inc. participant Anaya Griggs honored Monique Berke, vice president, business transformation for CBL & Associates Properties Inc.
Girls Inc. participant Ebony Boston honored Mukta Panda, M.D., professor of medicine, assistant dean for medical student education, and director of the transitional year program for the University of Tennessee College of Medicine Chattanooga.
Girls Inc. participant Macy Hammon honored Jessie Fincher, the guild center and adjunct dance professor for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
Terri Wright said she was a shy and unsure third-grader when she started attending Girls Inc., but after nine years in the nonprofit support organization for girls, the graduating senior calls herself unstoppable.
"I am prepared to be strong, smart and bold in all aspects of future decision making," Wright wrote in an essay that Girls Inc. President and CEO Bea Lurie read to hundreds of people Wednesday attending the 12th annual UnBought and UnBossed Awards at the Chattanooga Convention Center.
Wright, who earned a full scholarship to Spelman College through the National Girls Inc. and Bonner Scholars programs, was among nine high school students in the Girls Inc. Women's History Project responsible for selecting the nine UnBought and UnBossed awards honorees.
Honorees included Dr. Neslihan Alp, Nancy Ridge, Carol George, Sharon Braden, Lynne Mulligan, Monique Berke, Mukta Panda and Jessie Fincher.
Local author and television host Alison Lebovitz hosted the event.
"We call this event 'Unbought and Unbossed' because that's what Shirley Chisholm said about herself," Lebovitz said. "Shirley Chisholm, who did not want history to remember her as the first black woman to be elected to Congress, who did not want history to remember her as the first black woman to run for president of the United States; she wanted history to remember her as a woman who lived in the 20th century and dared to be herself. That's what we're doing today."
The nine high school students chose the nine mentors who would become the honorees without knowing the mentors' names. The students were asked to read the biographies of several women and select the one who inspired them.
Lebovitz called the honorees "tenacious trailblazers who inspired change."
Wright selected Mical Traynor, executive director at Chattanooga Women's Leadership Institute.
"She's down to earth. She's resourceful. She's text savvy. She's business minded and about her money. My mentor is genuine," Wright said about Traynor.
The UnBought and UnBossed awards raise funds for Girls Inc.
Thinking Media co-founders Dane and Sheila Boyington offered to match all donations at the luncheon of $50 or more up to $10,000.
Wright stands among 1,200 girls a year that Girls Inc. serves through summer camps and after-school programs that encourage the girls to be strong, smart and bold.
All high school students who complete Girls Inc. go on to higher education and most of them graduate college within four years, Lurie said.
"Girls Inc. is proof positive that girls from all backgrounds can dream big and achieve big," she said.
Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at 423-757-6431 or firstname.lastname@example.org.