Written by: Kelli Gustafson
Editor’s note: This month we’ve decided to shake things up a bit with our AJ of the month. Instead, it has been written out in more of a traditional Q&A style. Let us know what you think!
Who: Jessica Kent
Nickname(s): JK, JKent, JK-47
Hometown: Edmonton, Alberta
3 things she can’t live without: Cheese, friends & family, and… CATS!
With a name like Jessica Kent, you just know that she’s destined for greatness. She’s kind, humble, and confident. She is the kind of friend you can rely on to RSVP to pretty much anything — from a birthday party to a celebration of life for your gecko. Okay, that second one was made up, but I wouldn’t put it past her to be there for you if she knew it was important to you.
Selfless — that’s Jess.
Born and raised in Edmonton and currently working for her hometown NHL team (a fact that her husband might like to brag about more than her), we had the chance to catch up with the 27-year-old to find out why she is our AJ of the month.
Average Jil: Where did you grow up?
Jessica Kent: I was born and raised in Edmonton! I never really had any plans to move away, other than those big dreams in university where I would fantasize about moving to New York or Toronto as a ‘big-time’ TV host, but isn’t that everyone’s dream?! My career took me in a slightly different direction, when I moved to Saskatoon in 2012 to work at Global News. Three years later, I moved back to Edmonton with that great experience under my belt. I’m really happy I moved away from my little bubble; I made some great life-long friends and realized Edmonton is where I really want to be. Maybe someday I’ll move, but living in a different city taught me how much it means to be close to friends and family. So for now, I love living in my hometown!
AJ: In your own words, how would you describe yourself?
JK: I would describe myself as someone who should probably stop to smell the flowers more often, but doesn’t really want to. I love being on-the-go and having plans with friends, co-workers and family! I love being around people and getting to know others. With that said, however, the older I get the more I appreciate that I don’t need 100 friends — having a couple good close friends who you know inside and out is all a gal really needs. The majority of my friends are from when I was growing up from either school or dance — the two places I spent most of my time. I am 27 and quickly realizing that I need to enjoy this time of my life before it’s gone! Right now I am really selfishly enjoying the “me time” because before I know it, that time will be gone with pets and kids — not anytime soon, let’s be clear on that!
AJ: Now that you’re back in Edmonton, where are you working?
JK: I work at Oilers Entertainment Group as a Community Reporter and I love being a part of Edmonton’s biggest project: ICE District and Rogers Place. I worked in the news for five years and always felt ‘hard news’ wasn’t really my thing. I have been in my current role for more than a year now and am loving it! I get to meet all sorts of people. My husband’s favourite part of my job is that I get to talk to the Oilers (#fanboy).
AJ: What has the experience been like for you?
JK: A couple of my favourite experiences I’ve had so far is interviewing some higher profile people. Garth Brooks was an absolute gem — seriously, the nicest person on earth. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was fun because I got to talk to him about our new arena and entertainment district and hear his thoughts on it and how it’s affecting the team. One of my latest interviews was with Edmonton’s own up and coming recording artist Ruth B. Her story is absolutely incredible and she is destined for big things, mark my words.
Fondly dubbed “Miss Rogers Place” by her colleagues for her immense knowledge on Downtown Edmonton’s latest and greatest venue, Jessica’s fondest experiences predate any Garth Brooks interviews she’s conducted.
AJ: What are some of your fondest childhood memories?
JK: I was reminiscing the other day about my childhood and I really feel like it was wonderful — I have nothing but fond memories! Some of my earliest memories are going to Flinstone Park in Kelowna (apparently I said I was thankful for it at Thanksgiving one year), getting my kitty Binky in Grade 2, then Oreo in Grade 7 (who is almost 16 now!), and playing kitchen in the shed and house in the basement with my sisters. We actually drew traffic lines on the concrete in our unfinished basement as well as a CIBC and McDonalds — what more does a seven-year-old need in a fictional town?
When I was growing up we had what we called “Stickyfingers”; a playgroup of different families with kids all around the same age. We still get together, but instead of going on day trips to ride the bus or LRT to the downtown library (apparently we loved that), we now get together for dinner and drinks. We would always get together on New Year’s, and during New Year’s 2000 we all put our most prized possessions into a time capsule to open up in the year 2012. I put in my favourite Mary-Kate and Ashley book and a letter on what I thought I would be doing in 12 years.
I can’t remember how accurate I was, but I do know it was a lot of fun! I recommend doing that at some point in your life! I spent a lot of my childhood running outside with my friends, dancing and playing soccer. As I got older I spent much of my free time at the dance studio and in the spring dance competitions! Dance was my life and I am so grateful for those experiences!
AJ: What would you say is one of the biggest challenges you’ve had to face?
JK: One of the biggest challenges I had to face was the decision to move to Saskatoon, and actually moving to Saskatoon. It was incredibly intimidating leaving the only place I’d ever known, leaving my friends, boyfriend, and moving to a province I have never stepped foot in before! I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t even know what my apartment looked like, and to top it off, I was just a baby! I was only 22. All I knew was there was a piece of my youth down that street: an Earl’s restaurant [laughs] – and I took comfort in that. I was really nervous, and only slightly excited for the adventure. One thing I know now is I am so glad I took the plunge and went — I have some of the best memories from those three years of my life as a Saskatonian.
AJ: What would you say is your biggest accomplishment? Or, what are you most proud of?
JK: Though I reference it as one of my biggest challenges, I also look at moving to Saskatoon as one of my biggest accomplishments. As I mentioned, I moved without knowing much about my new living situation, but I knew I had to go if I wanted to get my reporting career off the ground and running. Many people in my career get their start in really small centres like Lloydminster, Prince Albert, or even smaller! I was really lucky the News Director and Station Manager at Global Saskatoon decided to take a chance on this ‘industry newbie’ and trust an old friend as a reference.
I moved at 22 and moved back [to Edmonton] at 25. During that time, I established a great career, did almost every job at the station, maintained a long-distance relationship with Marc (my now Husband), made amazing friend and reached my goal of moving back home with a reporting job at Global Edmonton – the next step in my career. I don’t want to toot my own horn, but I feel like I owned those three years!
Well, the sound of your horn is beautiful Jessica, so we say toot away! (In both senses of the word. We also strongly promote embracing any necessary bodily functions here at AJ).
With the courage to leave the only home she ever knew to move to a new city and start a new career, Jessica says she found her courage by way of example; set by someone very near and dear to her heart.
AJ: Who is your biggest idol? If you had to pick one person, who would you say you look up to the most?
JK: I look up to my 92-year-old Oma, Elsie. She is the strongest woman I know and has a lifetime of wisdom, and isn’t afraid to share it. After living through extremely uncertain times during the second World War, my Oma moved over to Edmonton with her family. As an immigrant not knowing a lick of English, she found her way. She went from having nothing, to having everything and more! She and my Opa worked very hard to build their life in Canada and I have nothing but respect for that. I aspire to live my life with the same morals and values my Oma leads her life with.
AJ: Looking back, if you could give 15-year-old Jessica advice, what would you tell her?
JK: Just relax… no one cares! [laughs] And don’t be lazy and stretch at home more — it’ll make you a better dancer.
Find Jessica on Twitter at @J_Kent10 to follow along her adventures and reporting for Rogers Place, the Edmonton Oilers and Ice District.