Stories from intrepid reporters attending the Illinois Press Foundation Journalism Workshop at Eastern Illinois University
By Emily Scott
Okaw Valley High School
Even though she describes herself as shy, Serah Welborn is confident enough to don elaborate gowns and other medieval dress as a part of her high school’s musical theater troupe.
Despite being soft-spoken, this high-school senior has found ways to express herself through her musical and theatrical talents.
Born in Lawton, Okla., Welborn grew up being home-schooled. After her family moved to the small Illinois town of Leroy in 2005, she made the switch to public schooling in the sixth grade.
The transition was not easy for her, but she believes she completed it successfully because her musical and theatrical pursuits took her outside her comfort zone.
“I’m a really self-motivated person,” Welborn said.
She is involved in her high school’s music and theater programs and also an event called Madrigals, a medieval-themed musical theater.
Serah says she’s shy, but there have been several circumstances in which Welborn has boldly put herself out there. She has taken lead roles in plays and been a leader in her high school’s band as the top-performing baritone player.
She has also gone the extra mile in her academics by enrolling in sociology, psychology and music appreciation classes at Parkland College.
“My mom is really supportive of me and has always focused on the positive,” said Welborn, whose mother recently took on an even more important role in her life after going through a divorce.
“I now realize and appreciate how much my mom has sacrificed,” she said.
Welborn describes her home life as a challenge but has developed a unique way to cope.
“I sit down and write a letter to God,” she said. It helps her see where she has been and appreciate where she is today.
After high school, Welborn plans to attend Dallas Baptist University in Dallas, Texas, possibly pursuing a career in communications.
While she has not decided on a career choice, she knows she wants to help people. After gaining confidence from her switch to public schooling, Welborn feels prepared to face challenges that will likely come her way.
“I have a variety of skills and I plan on using all of them,” she said. “I plan to be the best I can be at whatever I do.”