A four year Varsity athlete on the swim and dive team, a representative on the executive board for National Honor Society, a solid big sister and friend, youth group participant, church volunteer with her cello, 12 year Girl Scout, and junior high assistant diving coach… With a list like that, you wouldn’t think senior, Erika Buhk would have a whole lot of free time for writing and publishing a book. But that’s exactly what she did.
Erika credits her natural love for reading and writing, as well as the Jenison teachers who came alongside her, to help bring her to the completion and publication of her first book. Even as an elementary student, she was being challenged to think deeper as a participant in the ACT program, which is a pull-out program for academically talented and gifted students in 3rd-6th grade. Her teacher was Mrs. Karen Weaver and even though the content wasn’t Language Arts based; Erika feels she came away with a sense of confidence and insight into how to truly embrace every opportunity to learn. This teacher and this experience really influenced some of Erika’s key beliefs and behaviors and has helped her forge her own path.
She deeply appreciates the way her skills have been shaped by her Jenison High School English teachers. All of them have been so different and each of them have taught her something very unique, yet very important to the writing style she now uses. Over the years, she learned about the mechanics of speech and grammar from Mrs. Cindy Wabeke, spent time refining her individual writing style, learning the power of a good introduction/conclusion and persisted in taking her writing above and beyond in a college level writing class with Mr. Mark Doby. Mrs. Kathy DeBoer, although not a writing teacher, was also instrumental in helping Erika gain a well rounded appreciation for literature, which she thinks has encouraged her own writing style as well.
Erika embraces learning wholeheartedly and is a keen observer; she often finds her mind on ‘run-away train’ mode, trying to imagine a backstory while she sees the world as a variety of mini-plots. Around the time she was starting at the Junior High, she actually sat down and put pen to paper. It didn’t take her long to realize that she had a whole plot line in her head. Once she got started, she really loved the process of developing her main character asking herself, ‘What else could happen to him?’ She was writing a story in a spy fiction genre, and found that she loved the military order and discipline of the profession but also the complex existence of her young character. As life happens, there were days when she was pursuing her project and other days she wasn’t. However, she enjoyed the process throughout, saying she was always thinking about what and how she wanted to write.
So, what’s next for our friend Erika? With this deep interest in literature and love for learning – not to mention a father who is a teacher himself; it is often assumed that she’ll go into an “English” driven career. Actually, she’s headed to Michigan State University to start a Pre-Med track. She’d rather keep writing as the thing she really loves to do, and can escape to. However, mentioning a few career possibilities that offer fast pace variety from day to day or even a little mystery solving, it sounds like she’ll experience no shortage of “plot lines” for inspiration.
We’re so proud of all our students, but Erika’s story is evidence that teachers throughout Jenison schools have taken ownership of our mission wholeheartedly. It is so exciting to be a part of this team; working together to help our students grow intellectually, emotionally and socially while becoming lifelong learners.
Download Erika’s book on Amazon today!
The Unseen: Erika L. Buhk
Jackson Bryant is like every other teenage boy in the country; he’s intelligent, athletic, and he’s very aware of the girls around him. He cares deeply about his family, is working his first job and is developing a crush on a special girl. What makes Jackson different? It might be that his intelligence and athleticism are the results of one-on-one training with the top Secret Agents in the US. It might be that his family consists of his late parents, two other teenagers, and an agency’s worth of operatives. But what really separates Jackson from the teenagers around the world is that he is employed with the CIA and his colleagues call him Agent Bryant.
After Jackson was abandoned by his guardian, the CIA cleared him to act as a full field agent. At the age of seventeen he has traveled around the world, assumed countless identities, killed some of the world’s worst criminals, and saved his country doing the only thing he’s ever known; acting as an undercover spy. Jackson’s next mission sends him to a small town in Pennsylvania and he must act like a normal teenage boy. Now that he’s had the chance to taste the life he’s never had, a life he’s beginning to enjoy, Jackson’s mission is about to end in disaster.
Follow Jackson as he acts under pressure, completes the impossible and finds himself through the most unlikely of friends. In a world that has forced him to grow up very quickly, watch as Jackson struggles to accept his past and fights to live the future he wants. Get an insight to the unique life Jackson leads, experience the very adult problems this teen is tasked with solving, and uncover the next chapter of his very complicated life.