At age 11, Courtney Scoles life came off the tracks, and Big Brothers Big Sisters helped her get back on. Now her goal is to help others facing similar situations do the same thing.

Scoles’ mother Jennifer Schenkel-Scoles passed away in 2013 after battling breast and brain cancer. There were lines of people at the funeral home all day to pay their respects to the woman who worked in the finance office at Glenbrook Dodge.

Of course, her daughter and her three siblings were crushed, but Courtney remembers her mom telling her that life is like stairsteps. There were always going to be those you tripped and fell on, but you always have to climb back up to get where you are going somehow.

Soon after, Scoles received a mentor through Big Brothers Big Sisters and she started attended Erin’s House For Grieving Children. Her Big Sister helped her regain her academic focus, and Courtney started finding an interest in studying psychology at Bishop Dwenger.

“I found that helping kids on those sort of paths is what I want to do,” Scoles said. “I don’t know how to put it other than there is more to life than just losing people. That’s what I want to help kids understand. There’s a lot more than just the bad things that go on in life, and there is good that can come out of those bad things.”

So she became a volunteer at Erin’s House, working with a group of 6- to 9-year olds for three years before committing to study psychology, cognitive neuroscience and counseling at the University of Saint Francis where she’s an 18-year-old freshman.

When the pandemic presented challenges for many BBBS clients, she joined Jaren Harmon, Miranda Jackson and Jorie Rodenbeck in forming Learning Pods, a program that helps children continue their schoolwork at the agency. Scoles serves breakfast and lunch, helps with assignments and makes sure students attend their Zoom classes. She also cleans up after them sometimes and beats them at pool in the game room when necessary.

“I’ve always had a goal that I wanted to work with kids (at BBBS),” she said. “Now coming here and working hands-on with them, something clicked in, and I know absolutely this is what I’m supposed to be doing.

“For me, coming here wasn’t about making the money, it was about the impact I was making on people, and that’s always been the goal. I saw the impact my mom made on people and all she did was sit in an office. If I can do what she did to one person in my lifetime, that would be all right.”

Now Courtney is working 12 hours a week at this job, helping in the Cougars’ football office for another and maintaining her academic work. She’s also found her niche and goal in life.

Mom would certainly be proud of her start.If you’d like to find out more about being involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Indiana as a potential Big, volunteer or donor, call 260-456-1600 or go to

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