Proudly Pennsylvanian | Mentoring Harrisburg's youth

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Olin Harris was one of the first black broadcasters in Harrisburg.

We hired him here at CBS21 back in 1966.

He was an inspiration to journalists and the Harrisburg African American community.

Now, his daughter is following in his footsteps inspiring African American youth within the Harrisburg School District to do their very best.

Kirsten Keys may be doing a different kind of journalism -- working as Harrisburg School Districts’ public relations coordinator -- but her influence on the Harrisburg community is making an impact just like her father.

At the tender age of 15, Kirsten became pregnant.

“I’ll never forget my mom and dad first found out that I was pregnant. They took me to a little deli at 2nd and MacClay, and it was a Sunday morning before church. My dad said to me, 'Young lady first this will never happen again. And my nickname is Chrissy. He said, 'Chrissy, you can either use this as a stepping stone or a stumbling block.'”

Kirsten did not stumble.

Neighbors who knew her as a little girl say they always knew she’d be successful.

“A drive to want more.. I think she had it because the apple don’t fall too far from the tree,” says Yvonne Diggs, Kirsten's neighbor.

She had her son, graduated from high school, got her college degree and is now the P.R. coordinator for Harrisburg High School.

“I was determined to be driven because I had a little son to take care of,” Kirsten says.

Keys credits her parents and the tight knit community of Harrisburg for helping her succeed.

“If it wouldn’t have been for the support and love of my mom and dad and my community, I don’t think I would have made it,” she said.

Now she gives back by mentoring students in the district. Before that, she even worked as a counselor helping teen moms get their education and careers s“She taught us a lot of life skills and she was very spiritual, so that helped to being a young teen mom,” said Jamilah Holly.

Keys says there is no greater joy than mentoring and giving back to a community that helped shape who she is today.

“Harrisburg is in my blood,” she says.

Keys says the best advice she has for teens in Harrisburg is soak in your elder’s knowledge, take advantage of every educational opportunity that you can, and don’t be afraid to lean on your community when you need help.

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