By Diane Ako
Since August, Hawaii viewers have been graced with a new presence in the morning: Kelly Simek, KHON2's morning weather anchor. She's fun, she's bubbly, and her radiant smile is the perfect way for many to start their day.
"It's so nice that I can inform people how to prepare for their day. I love outdoor activities and I'm honored that people actually plan their day around my forecast," she told me. She's one of the five person Wake Up 2Day on air team that includes Ron Mizutani, Taizo Braden, Jai Cunningham, and me.
If Kelly looks familiar to you already, it's because she's been a key part of the University of Hawaii at Manoa's athletics program for the past three years. "I came to UH Manoa as a freshman because I got a scholarship to twirl baton for the band." We're lucky - she probably would have stayed on the mainland if not.
Photo courtesy: Kelly Simek
Kelly graduated this past spring - in just three years- with a Bachelor's degree of Arts in Interdiciplinary Studies, which combined broadcasting and meteorology. "I initially thought I wanted to be a newscaster, but I really like math and science, so I gravitated towards this after taking a meteorology course early in my college career. I loved it," she explains. Kelly credits her teacher and advisor Dr. Gary Barnes with providing the right mentorship to help her make this choice.
She still, however, will be twirling through the 2014-2015 school year. You can catch her at all UH football games, as well as basketball and volleyball this season. Kelly does this while juggling a new courseload as a UH Manoa graduate student (major currently undeclared.)
"I love twirling. It's a big part of my life. I have the best memories. The band members were my first friends when I moved to Hawaii, and I appreciate that I got to spend four seasons cementing these friendships," Kelly reminisces.
Kelly began twirling baton at age six - and shortly thereafter, at age ten, began competing. "My mother's a twirler, too, and the training was intense. At its peak I would train two to three hours a day. I was even homeschooled during junior high school so that I could dedicate time to training," reveals Kelly.
The work paid off. In her senior year at La Costa Canyon High School in Carlsbad, California, Kelly was selected to twirl for San Diego State. "I love when I can catch a big trick and hear the crowd go wild," she says. She's so talented, she holds national titles in twirling.
Twirling has taken her across the world. Besides a coveted scholarship to UH, Kelly twirled at the Queen's New Year's Parade in London and represented the US as a Goodwill Ambassador. In her personal time, she has also journeyed around Europe.
Kelly parlayed her looks, intelligence, and talent into beauty pageant success. She garnered a Miss East Oahu title, then ran and placed fourth runner up in Miss Hawaii in 2014. As one would guess, she twirled for her talent.
Photo courtesy: Kelly Simek
Will she run again? "I don't rule it out," she hints.
For now, KHON2 is her life. Her 3 a.m. - 11 a.m. schedule is demanding (I know!), and after work, it's "nap, band practice (for twirling) and dinner."
On weekends, she likes "anything outdoors - hiking, swimming, body boarding." She just got certified in SCUBA over the weekend, so she can add that to the list of weekend fun!
We enjoy the sunny demeanor Kelly brings to our morning show family - and are sure you do, too, as you start your day with Wake Up 2Day!