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Sterling Jenkins Blends a Passion for Writing with the Power of Perseverance

Sterling Jenkins has loved words as long as he can remember. He explains, "I love the craft of the written word. It's technical as much as it is artistry. Writing, experiencing good writing through reading, and analyzing it all is a true passion of mine." His love of reading was cultivated in the Baldwin-Whitehall School District. Jenkins recalls, "in middle school, I had teachers that helped me fall in love with reading, writing, and critical analysis. I've been learning more about those three things ever since." In high school, Jenkins furthered his interest in writing in freshman Advanced English with Mr. Harrison—Jenkins refers to Mr. Harrison as legendary. Mr. Harrison remembers Jenkins with admiration. Mr. Harrison shares, "Sterling was a standout writer who was just as impressive in analyzing a novel in an English class essay as he was in crafting his own short stories in Creative Writing class. Students in the Creative Writing class share their work with their peers, and the rest of the kids in class quickly learned to look forward to Sterling's short stories. He created memorable characters and truly original plots and conflicts. I always thoroughly enjoyed reading his work."

Jenkins points to the English classes, particularly the Socratic seminars, as key in preparing him academically and professionally. "Learning how to read something and analyze it effectively is something applicable in all areas of life," Jenkins points out. "Having a critical eye is important, but being able to convey that analysis is crucial in today's world."

After graduating Baldwin High School in 2015, Jenkins attended Penn State where he played offensive tackle for the Lions. Jenkins notes that he not only honed his football skills on the field, but playing sports fostered perseverance. He explains, "my biggest takeaway was how to love something even when it's bad. I feel a lot of people imagine loving something as always being happy or positive, and in my experience with football it definitely was those things, but it was also really challenging and hard to do a lot. If you love something you have to be able to push through those times. "

Jenkins earned his B.A. in English from Penn State last year and is now pursuing a Master's degree in Leadership at Duquesne University. He plans to pursue a career in writing—be it copywriting, technical writing, or editing—while pursuing writing projects of his own.

Jenkins encourages students to use their time in high school to explore their interests and learn what they love to do. He advises, "find your passion, and begin to set attainable goals on how to maximize that passion. I loved English, even outside of the classroom. The inner realization that you love something during school and outside of school can be helpful. Try to find it, and realize it's okay to stumble along the way. People switch majors in college still, so uncertainty in high school is nothing to shut down about. Write down goals, talk about your dreams, get surrounded with people who like similar things. Those things go a long way at any level of life."