We took five with one of our newest Account Coordinators, Claire Girman, who brings something unique to the mix. Her background as an editor and reporter in community journalism has cultivated a passion for service, organization and the obvious – meeting deadlines. She’s fueled by a hunger for knowledge, a curiosity for the unknown and multiple cups of French Press. Claire’s turned over many bylines, but now she’s submitting a new report. All with a notebook still in-hand.
Schaefer: Tell us about yourself.
CG: Well, I call Chapel Hill, North Carolina, my home. I was originally born in Indiana, but moved around a little bit growing up. I spent most of my upbringing ten minutes from UNC Chapel Hill’s campus, and still live and breathe everything Carolina Tar Heels. I’ve always loved writing, so I ended up pursing a degree in journalism and a minor in business at TCU. My friends say I’m a bit of an old soul. I guess that’s how I would describe myself if I absolutely had to. I collect vinyl, love classic films, reading and being outdoors.
Schaefer: Why did you move here?
CG: I actually moved to Texas my senior year of high school. I know – crazy, right? It was a drastic transition for all of us, having lived along the East Coast for 18 years. My mom got an amazing job offer, and it was one of those situations where you had to jump at the opportunity when it came along. That’s something I’ve always admired about my parents. They always show me what it looks like to chase what you truly want, no matter what stage in life you’re in. Looking back, that transition and those lessons continue to benefit me more in the long run.
Schaefer: So you were the new kid. How did you deal with that?
CG: It was super intimidating. I finished my senior year at a high school that was only four years old at the time. But practically everyone that went there had gone through school together since pre-k. This was a small Texas town. When people heard I was from North Carolina, they jokingly called me a “Yankee.” But I continually informed them that North Carolina is still below the Mason Dixon line. I eventually got to a point where I felt I had to just embrace the change, and the fact that no one knew me. So I decided to do something I always wanted to do – I started a school newspaper.
Schaefer: A school newspaper? Tell us more.
CG: Our mascot was a bobcat, so we called the paper The Paw Print. I mentioned before, I have always had a love for writing. The newspaper turned into a hit, where people actually showed up to meetings and eventually we had a staff of people from all grade levels. I was surprised. It was definitely a learning curve for me, coming in as the new kid and being the editor. But I really loved being able to work alongside and help people hone their own voice and writing style. It made the weeks of chaos come full circle when we finally saw all of our names in fine, black ink on publishing day. I’m pretty sure the paper doesn’t exist anymore, but it was fun for the hot second I was there.
Schaefer: So then you went to TCU?
CG: Well, originally I wanted to take a year off before starting college to work, take classes and maybe travel a little. But my dad was looking at colleges online one day and said, “hey, maybe we should go check out this campus.” Sure enough, I stepped foot on TCU’s campus and knew I wanted to be there. I know people say that a lot. But I’m a firm believer that when you feel it, it’s probably right.
Schaefer: How did you make yourself known there?
CG: Over the course of college, I interned every year without breaks and served in five leadership positions. Still managed to meet people and make time for friends, too. Sometimes I think it’s a miracle I’m still kickin’. But that’s kind of how I operate. I like being busy and involved.
I helped run a campus ministry, TCU Chi Alpha, which gave me the rich, spiritual community I wanted in college. I served in Student Government and in TCU Student Media where I helped run a community news website, The109.org.
Schaefer: What made you stay here then?
CG: I was a Culture and Arts reporter in Fort Worth throughout most of college. After covering so much, and building relationships with business owners, artists and other community members, I gradually fell more in love with this city. By the end of my senior year, everything pointed to me staying here.
Schaefer: What are your biggest fears?
CG: I’m terrified of spiders. Even thinking about them makes me cringe. I honestly wish they didn’t exist. I would much prefer swatting flies for the rest of my life. I lived on a lake at one point and my family’s house attracted a lot of bugs, naturally living by the water. It was a routine every night that my dad would come up and close my blinds for me, because as a kid, I thought the spiders hanging in my window would come through the glass. I can’t say at almost 23 years old, I’ve dealt with them any better.
I wish I had a more profound answer for this question. [laughs]
Schaefer: Nicknames and where did they come from?
CG: Claire bear is obviously a nickname and some people even shorten it to bear. Some of my friends will just send me a bear emoji. My mom calls me Sis, because I have an older brother who I’m really close to. As a child, she would call me pumpkin, because I had chubby cheeks. Of all the nicknames, people all over call me Clurr. It’s managed to stick.
Schaefer: How many siblings do you have?
CG: An older brother, he’s 26. He’s also one of my best friends.
Schaefer: Which Carolina is the better Carolina?
CG: North Carolina- hands down. Next question.
Schaefer: Do you make it back to North Carolina often?
CG: I try to. My best friend lives out there and she’s going to grad school at UNC right now. One thing I definitely took for granted is how accessible Chapel Hill was to different places. To get technical, it’s in the piedmont region of the state. So, we lived three hours from the mountains and three hours from the beach. On the east coast, that was considered a moderately long time to travel anywhere. But having lived in Texas for five years, three hours is nothing. Sometimes it’s a rough wake-up call when I’m reminded I’m landlocked in North Texas. Nonetheless, I have a greater appreciation for the trees and green hills of North Carolina. It makes going back home even better.
Schaefer: What is your favorite hometown story?
CG: So, there was this local folk/indie band based out of Chapel Hill, that both my brother and I were really into. My brother was taking bass lessons from the bassist in the band at the time. Over enough time, my brother and I got closer with the band and would go to all of their local shows and act like groupies. There’s one area in Chapel Hill, right on UNC’s campus, where it kind of looks like a stone amphitheater. There’s rows of rock that function as the stands, and they funnel down to a stage built into the ground. It served as a music/stage venue and the entire thing was made of stone. The band was performing there one day, and the turnout was pretty good. Out of nowhere, it started pouring during the show, but the band kept playing and people stuck around. Everyone was soaking wet, but just kept dancing and enjoying the music. It was super surreal, and definitely remains one of my best memories.
Schaefer: So you must be a fan of music?
CG: Yes, my brother is the musician in the family. He can pick up any instrument and play it. He helped cultivate my love for music at a young age. I started collecting vinyl a little over a year ago, and it’s changed my philosophy around how I appreciate music. I’ve learned it’s allowed me to take ownership of the music I like in a way that’s more tangible. I go through waves of being picky about what I choose to buy on vinyl, but a lot of times, I’ll pick a few up on a whim if I see any that are interesting.Two of my really good friends who are engaged will go out to antique and estate sales and pick up records for me just out of thought and spur of the moment. They’ve really contributed to my Sinatra collection. It makes those albums that are super personal for you all the more special. That probably sounded really hipster of me.
Schaefer: If you didn’t work in advertising what would be your dream career?
CG: When I was in middle school and high school I always thought I wanted to go into the Peace Corps. Everyone in my family has huge humanitarian hearts, and I feel it’s engrained in my overall being that I was meant to serve and help others. One day, later down the road when I feel I’ve achieved everything I’ve wanted in a career, I want to advocate for military families. Whether that be helping troops find the necessary aid when they come back from overseas and are dealing with critical health conditions or are having a hard time integrating back into society. I would also like to work for an organization or start one of my own that sponsors children of fallen soldiers, and help them get the financial means to go through college. It’s a part of the population we don’t think about a lot.
Schaefer: Any last words?
CG: Stay humble – Kendrick Lamar