Erin Kelly loves baking and decorating cakes -- many of which are quite elaborate -- and the hobby became a business for the Paducah teen. The TV show, "Cake Boss," inspired her to try it out and the rest was history.
"It was just a random day, I started watching that and I was like, 'This is just so cool how they can create something so realistic that you might not even realize is a cake,'" she said. "So, I decided I had to try it. Of course, they did not turn out so well in the beginning, but I loved it."
The 17-year-old Paducah Tilghman High School senior grew her skills and eventually started her home bakery and cake decorating business, "High Street Cakery." The custom cakes have varied in flavors, themes and designs. Time spent on cakes from start to finish can vary a lot depending on size and decoration.
Kelly thought about a culinary career path, but a summer "baking camp" experience helped her decide that it just wasn't for her. She started to think of other options and interior architecture stuck out. Last summer, Kelly attended a two-week program at Drexel University for interior architecture and it solidified her interest in the profession.
"It really involves a lot of the same kind of skills or thought processes of cake decorating, if you think about it," she explained. "That can be dealing with all sorts of things from colors and aesthetics, in general, and it takes the same skills, I think, so that's how I decided that I thought it was for me."
In particular, Kelly is fascinated in the psychology behind how a person's environment can impact their emotions and productivity.
"It just has a huge impact that most people aren't really conscious of and it's just really intriguing to me, so I'm excited to learn more about how the psychology behind all of it and how the way you design a space can impact the people who are spending time in it and utilizing it," she said.
Kelly, daughter of Robin and Keith Kelly of Paducah, is the Paducah Bank Teen of the Week.
Each Monday and Tuesday, the Paducah Sun profiles area high school teens chosen from a pool of nominees for Teen of the Week. Around the end of the school year, a selection committee will pick one student for Teen of the Year, which carries a $5,000 scholarship. Another student will receive an Inspiration Award and a $1,000 scholarship.
Kelly's academic achievement ranks her in the top 10 of her class with a weighted cumulative GPA above 4.3. She also earned a 34 composite ACT score and became an AP Scholar.
At Paducah Tilghman, she's involved with the varsity tennis team, The Tilghman Bell newspaper, choral and theatre departments, Future Problem Solving and National Honor Society. She is a member of Concordia and Another Shade of Blue, which are school a cappella groups.
Kelly has played tennis for years and received the most improved award. She credits it for teaching her tenacity.
"Never giving up because it's sometimes frustrating when you're trying to improve, and you're not seeing the results you want, or you're against a tough opponent and you have to somehow figure out a way to just get as many points as you can," she said.
She's considering Belmont University, University of Tennessee or University of Cincinnati for college, but hasn't committed yet.
"This year's definitely been my favorite year of high school, so that's nice, but I'm very excited to graduate and move forward in my life and pursue what I'm passionate about," she said. "It's kind of bittersweet knowing that May is so soon, but I'm very excited for the future."
By: Kelley Farrell