Shelby Koerten - Tennessee Nomination by Julie Koerten Photography by Rural Southern Photography Issue 61 of Inspiring Teens Magazine
Nomination: ShelbyKoerten uses her platforms to help others embrace their differences and use them to create positive change. She works to inspire a sense togetherness while advocating for the potential impact her generation can make when teens combine their unique traits to make an amplified difference in the world. Shelby currently serves as the National Senior Beta Club Tennessee Secretary and holds multiple offices within clubs at Sevier County High School. Her relationship with Christ guides her as she strives to share His love and light through all of her endeavors.
Photography by Rural Southern Photography
What is the National Beta Club and what is your role as Tennessee Secretary? Beta is the largest independent, non-profit, educational youth organization in America. The club promotes character, service, leadership, and achievement, which are values I hold in high esteem. My favorite part about our club is how it enables students to discover their passions and pursue them, especially through competitions at conventions. As the Tennessee Senior Beta Secretary, I provide supportive leadership as members serve in their communities. I lead our State Convention and help Betas find ways to get involved. Also, I have worked on developing versatile service projects that are beneficial on both the local and state levels.
How would you describe your leadership style? Wherever I lead, I aspire to create an encouraging and inclusive atmosphere for everyone involved. Each person has something special to contribute, so I work to identify areas where these strengths are applicable. By aligning myself with Biblical truth, I have developed a method of servant leadership, making sure each member feels valued and appreciated. I strive to attentively listen to those I preside over and take their opinions into consideration. Celebrating success and progress is crucial to team morale, so I work to maintain an uplifting environment.
What/who motivates you? Above all else, my faith motivates me! Being raised with Christian values, I have formed a firm foundation of faith that has carried me through the highs and lows of life. My relationship with Christ has taught me how I was created to be a light in the darkness that often consumes our world. The Lord has blessed me with countless positions of influence, and I aspire to glorify Him through each of them; I want to faithfully steward my God-given gifts. My deepest desire is to make Him known and help others discover His abundant grace and love.
If you were to present a topic to a group of your peers, what would it be? Something I am incredibly passionate about is the beauty of individuality. The world is filled with pressure to conform to a certain standard or image, which suppresses creativity and originality. Comparison can be such a barrier in our paths to reaching our full potential. We were each intentionally created for a unique purpose. By embracing this and learning to appreciate our differences, we will find how freeing it is when we are brave enough to live authentically and inspire others to do the same.
Photography by Rural Southern Photography
What is something that has inspired you? I am a huge Marvel fan, and I have grown up watching the MCU movies. I’ve always looked up to the Avengers, and they have shaped my outlook and values in many ways. Captain America taught me the importance of endurance and maintaining my character. Thor demonstrated the power of sacrifice and loyalty in leadership. Black Widow showed me the value of being multifaceted and adapting to my circumstances. Each hero found ways to use whatever strengths they had to help the world and people around them. They fought with the same passion I want to have for serving others.
What is one word that summarizes you as a person? I would use the word “storyteller.” Acting has enabled me to embody the experiences of carefully developed characters, each more nuanced than the rest. Dance has served as a platform to delve deeper into sharing stories creatively. Stories are more to me than just fairy tales; they are the struggles and experiences of humanity, filled with details that can impact countless listeners. I have utilized my love of writing to share them in both simplistic and profound ways. The most important story to share is the Gospel, and I venture to communicate its truth with as many people as possible.
What offices do you hold in which clubs at your high school? I serve as DECA President, Beta President, Teen Board President, Fellowship of Christian Athletes Captain, National Honor Society Historian, and Student Government Association Historian. I am also a member of the Drama Club, National Science Honor Society, Rho Kappa, National Technical Honor Society, and the Keep Sevier Beautiful Teen Advisory Board.
What have you learned through your experiences in these organizations? At a young age, I took the initiative to forge my own path. I formed connections from the ground up and pursued leadership positions in numerous clubs. It came to my attention how many students never put themselves out there simply because they have not considered the possibilities waiting for them. I use my story to encourage them to push themselves past stereotypes to achieve greatness. The greatest lesson I have gained has been that there are no guidelines for what a leader should look like. No matter your background or experiences, you have the ability to make a difference.
How do you manage stress? Being involved genuinely brings me such joy, but it can be challenging to find moments to unwind when life gets busy! My ability to focus well and fully put myself into my endeavors has helped me succeed, but being mindful of my own state of being is crucial. Reading my Bible and spending time in prayer helps me stay grounded in peace and find rest in God’s goodness. I love art in all of its forms; writing and painting allow me to express my emotions creatively. Staying active through dance improves both my physical and mental health.
Photography by Rural Southern Photography
How did you find and why did you choose Rural Southern Photography for your photographer? Kasey Stringfield selects a team of senior girls to represent her photography each year. I came into contact with her Instagram page and immediately fell in love with her bright, bold style. I knew the team was something that I would enjoy being a part of, and I was selected for her 2022-23 Rural Southern Belles Team! Her senior photo session experiences are extremely personalized, and she perfectly captures each client’s individuality. During mine, she let me play music to help me feel confident and was open to feedback the entire time. Shooting with her is a wonderful experience!
What are your plans for the future? I currently plan on pursuing a degree in Public Relations/Communications, which I intend to use as the spokesperson of a company. Depending on where life takes me, I would even love working on a talk show or news program. My dream from early on has been to go into acting, so I aim to continue to develop my craft and also work as an actress in either film or theatre. No matter what path I may choose, the ultimate profession for me would be working as an inspirational speaker.
What is your favorite activity or pastime? Dance has been a key part of my life since I was four years old, and it has been a cherished creative outlet in my academic pursuits. I have been trained in tap, ballet, jazz, contemporary, hip hop, lyrical, musical theatre, and clogging, and I held the title of the 2021 Miss America’s Clogging Hall of Fame Premier Ambassador.
What is something on your bucket list? I have always wanted to travel to Paris, France. I think the culture there is so captivating, and I would adore seeing the artwork and architecture.
What is your favorite movie and why? I absolutely adore the movie La La Land. I think it is a really beautiful representation of the balance between having a passion for your craft and a desire for romance.
What quality do you admire about others? I love when people find strength in their vulnerability. Being brave enough to share experiences opens the door to empathy, which connects us on a deeper level and helps us support one another.
How would you describe yourself in five words? Passionate, Encouraging, Joyful, Dedicated, and Creative
Look for Shelby in issue 61 of Inspiring Teens Magazine!