Next Up Columbus 2020: Caroline Bennett

Caroline Bennett
Caroline Bennett

Photo by Matt Reese / CityPulse Columbus

Interview by Sarah Shumick

Name: Caroline Inspires Bennett
Age: 25
Profession: Founder at Caroline Inspires LLC
Neighborhood: King-Lincoln Bronzeville
Education: Masters degree in Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies from The Ohio State University; Bachelor of Arts in Human Relations from the University of Oklahoma
Quote: “I got to where I am today by leaving behind where I was yesterday.”
Connect: Instagram | Facebook | YouTube

As a child, Caroline Bennett wanted to be a lawyer, a psychiatrist, a professional soccer player and a librarian. “I wanted to be lawyer because I loved to argue. I wanted to be a psychiatrist because they made a lot of money. I wanted to be a librarian because in elementary school every time I got in trouble I was sent to the library, so I thought librarians were nice because they took in the ‘troubled/displaced children.’ I wanted to be nice when I grew up,” Bennett said.

But one thing she knew for sure was that she would always follow what was in her heart. And that’s precisely what Caroline Inspires Bennett does now. She is a speaker, poet, singer, storyteller, entrepreneur and an artist who travels so she can – you guessed it – inspire others.

Give us a snapshot of your path:
I got to where I am today by leaving behind where I was yesterday. There are places that I had to walk away from, jobs I had to quit, people I had to disconnect from. There were long nights and early morning conversations I had to have with myself, with God and with people who had wisdom. There was discipline I had to develop that translated in all areas of my life. I had to practice what I preached. Take my own medicine. I had to be intentional about the things I chose to commit the rest of my life to. I had to be sure. I had to be uncomfortable. I had to be relentless. I had to be determined. I had to be ok with not always knowing the ‘when,’ the ‘where’ the ‘how’ … so long as I knew the ‘The Why!’ I’d always already be more than alright. I am more than an artist, entrepreneur, educator… I am Caroline Inspires Bennett.

What gets you up in the morning? And what gets you through the workweek?
The young people, my faith and my belief in myself- get me up in the morning AND keep going throughout the week.

What advice or mentors have helped guide you along the way?
Ultimately, the mentors in my life (the list goes on and on), have encouraged me and contributed to my personal, professional, academic, spiritual, financial, mental, and emotional growth, including:
• Susan Foust – Elementary school librarian
• Deana Holt – 8th grade math teacher (and self-appointed godmother)
• Crystal Perkins – TRIO Advisor in college “Every good opportunity presented to you is not a God opportunity.”
• LaToya Dowdell-Burger – Consultant
• Barbara Fant – “I am either reading, writing, or reciting.”
• Yaves Ellis – “Figure out how to make money in your sleep.”
• Quanta Taylor – “Figure out how to make this degree work for you.”

What do you do or where do you go to unwind?
To unwind I go dance and listen to music or poetry across the city of Columbus. I love dancing at shows the Deal Breakers have. I love being in the atmosphere created by Native Tongues. I love the community events housed in the Lincoln Theater.

When you were a kid, what did you say you wanted to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be lawyer because I loved to argue. I wanted to be a psychiatrist because they made a lot of money. I wanted to be a librarian because in elementary school every time I got in trouble I was sent to the library, so I thought librarians were nice because they took in the “troubled/displaced children.” I wanted to be nice when I grew up. I wanted to be a professional soccer player because I was amazing! I always saw professional soccer players on television. I wanted to be on television. I always knew I would travel and speak and stay in nice hotels because that’s what was in my heart… that’s exactly what I do now

What books or podcasts are you reading/listening to right now?
The book I am currently reading is the Book of Psalm in the Bible. Right now, I am listening to my heart as I receive next steps in this new chapter of my life.

What does it mean to you to be chosen for the Next Up Columbus award?
To be chosen for the Next Up Columbus award affirms what I know: I know that the city of Columbus values who I am, values artists, values individuals and organizations who are actively and genuinely striving to better themselves so that they can be better for the communities in which they dwell.

If someone were to ask you what the “pulse” of Columbus is, what would you tell them?
I would identify the “pulse” of Columbus as being inviting, inspiring, and contagious.


The Next Up Columbus Awards highlight emerging leaders who are connectors and ambassadors in Central Ohio and who are making a positive impact on the future of Columbus. Special thanks to the Columbus Young Professionals Club, Discover Financial, and Zipline Logistics for their support of this awards program. Meet the entire “Class of 2020” »

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