Kelly Asiala admits that when it came to her freshman journalism class, she wasn't a fan.
"I wanted to drop out of the class," remembers Asiala. "But my mom wouldn't let me."
She confesses that she wasn't interested in learning about the history of the printing press or other milestones of print. She wanted to write.
Asiala got that chance later in her freshman year when she had the opportunity to write about the Homestead hockey team. Familiarity with the sport made her comfortable on the assignment that no one else really wanted.
"I have grown up around hockey and I said I would do it," Asiala said. "I was told later that my story was going to be published in our yearbook. I wasn't even on the staff."
Turned out, Asiala has a talent, one that she has been cultivating ever since.
The current Homestead senior and future BallStateUniversity journalism student has grown in the field she initially felt apprehensive about to the point that she has been awarded the 2017 Sterling Sentinel Journalism Award scholarship. The honor is presented annually by The News-Sentinel and includes a $3,000 monetary reward for her education.
"It's hard to find a high school kid as mature and energetic and willing to take the lead as Kelly is," Homestead yearbook teacher Terri Nowak said. "But yet she does it in a way that the kids still respect her and respond. It's not easy to take 17 kids and put a yearbook together like she does."
According to Asiala, the drive and energy to succeed comes from her parents. Her father Sean runs his own business, while her mother Annmarie is an engineer. Both have worked hard to achieve great things in their professional careers.
"My parents are the people I can point to for all my success in life, not just in journalism," Asiala said. "That's where my incentive comes from, to be as good of a person as they are."
Asiala has achieved much in her time in high school. After serving as a staff member with the Homestead yearbook as a sophomore, she ascended to the executive editor position last year. As a senior, she is the editor-in-chief in charge of a mini-army of contributors. Her ability to take control of the room and command respect from her peers is something rarely seen in high school.
"Being a leader of people your age can be difficult at times," Asiala said. "You have to establish that credibility with them that you know what you're talking about.
"You have to be accountable and consistent."
Asiala will look to continue her success at BallState, with a journalism program among the best in the Midwest. Her versatility — from writing to designing to photojournalism — is key in an ever-evolving journalistic landscape.
"Journalism has opened some doors that people wouldn't think would be great, but they turn out that way," Asiala said. "To the average Joe, they wouldn't think it is really cool, but for me (journalism) is life changing."