Her plans changed drastically, though, when she became a mother at age 20.
“Life happened,” she said. “I put what I wanted to do on the back burner. I needed to stay in Kokomo, where I had family to help me take care of my son while I worked and went to school. I do feel like people … potential wrote me off as a statistic at that point. That’s what kept me motivated to keep going towards my degree.”
Setting an example for her son, Gabe, who is now 5, also motivates her.
“I want him to see that no matter what obstacles you face in your life, you can overcome them,” she said. “When you have a child, your life is not about you anymore, but you do have to keep improving yourself to make a better life for your child. I want him to be proud of me.”
She pursued internship opportunities and beat out candidates from broadcast degree programs to earn one at WRTV 6, the ABC affiliate in Indianapolis. That experience confirmed her career choice, so she looked for another internship. This time, she garnered an opportunity at WLFI.
With graduation approaching, she started to worry about having to move far away to get a job. Her husband, Brandon, was willing to move, but she hoped to stay close to family.
Her opportunity came five weeks into her internship, when Thieke’s supervisor encouraged her to apply for a full time opening at the station. She was both surprised and thrilled when she was offered the job. One of the requirements is that she lives in Tippecanoe County, so her family will move after she graduates.
“Because of the way things happened, I feel I was able to grow and mature,” she said. “I’m really proud of what I’ve done. It’s taken me a little longer, but I’m going to have my degree, and I’ve started my dream career.”