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When Kelly Hurt participated in her middle school Power of the Pen team in 1998, she won a Best of Round award as an 8th grader at the district level.
“It was the first time I was acknowledged as an above-average writer by someone I didn't think was ‘supposed to’ tell me I was good at writing,” Kelly says. “It wouldn't be until years later I would actually believe I was a good writer, but it planted a seed for me.”
Understanding Stories, Understanding Each Other
Kelly’s mother is Western Region Director Paula McWilliams. Kelly helps Paula read practice pieces written by 7th and 8th graders on the St. Matthew, Gahanna, team. “The impact of Power of the Pen on my life has been really focusing on what makes a great story,” Kelly says. “This has given me a critical eye when consuming media or just relating things to others in my day-to-day life. How a story is told really is half of the magic of the tale.”
The ability to tell a good story has helped Kelly with customers in the hardship department of the financial services firm where she works. “I spend my days listening to people explaining the issues they are facing … this can be a matter of sharing humanity through storytelling,” she says. “The most important thing Power of the Pen taught me in this regard is that our struggles make us stronger, and overcoming hardships makes us the heroes of our own stories.”
Giving Back to Power of the Pen
Kelly serves as the computer scorer for the Western Region, which means she is responsible for accurately entering judges’ ballot scores into Power of the Pen’s scoring system at district and regional tournaments to determine individual student and team rankings.
“I enjoy the energy and excitement of a tournament day, and even when it's remote, there are a lot of people working together for the love of storytelling,” Kelly says. “That’s something I really love being a part of.”
Kelly spends several weekends each season assisting in this critical role because she wants today’s middle school students to have the same opportunity she had to experience the power of storytelling.
“I would encourage alumni to be involved in Power of the Pen as a way of ‘paying forward’ the things they gained from their experience,” Kelly says. “There aren't many venues that encourage writers, so it is important to support the ones that exist. Volunteering for Power of the Pen is a unique way to nurture the love of stories in the youth of our communities.”