Kecia Bal ’04 makes a living by reporting facts as a business writer for The Tribune-Democrat in Johnstown.
However, she is making a foray into fiction writing by co-authoring a novel with best-selling author James Patterson.
Bal recently won a contest after taking a course via Patterson’s MasterClass.com online learning platform. Their book is in the works as of summer 2016. “It really is a dream come true,” Bal said. “I just thought it would be a fun way to improve my day-to-day writing. Then I saw the co-author contest and decided to give it my best shot.” Patterson is the author of more than 100 novels.
Before the Patterson collaboration, and prior to her writing stories published regionally as well as nationally in publications like Human Resource Executive and The Los Angeles Times, Kecia was a journalism student at Pitt-Johnstown.
“Pitt-Johnstown was the perfect size and setting for me,” said the Somerset, Pa., native. “It was close to home and offered academic programs that were ideal. I liked being able to pursue options that were the same as Pitt-Oakland's – better, actually, because the Oakland campus does not offer a journalism major – and still be in a close-knit community.”
She became part of that Pitt-Johnstown community and found her niche.
“I majored in journalism, after then-humanities advisor Dr. (Carroll) Grimes suggested I sign up for a Reporting 101 class,” she said. “I fell for reporting from the first class, which involved a walk over to a Richland Township supervisors' board meeting to write a story.
“I loved that the classes had students jump right into writing and reporting and it helped that Professor Lee Wood was a strong guide on both the art of writing as well as the ethics and meaning of journalism.
“Working at The Advocate gave me experience in real deadlines and writing stories, even before my first of two internships, both at the Tribune-Review.”
She noted Pitt-Johnstown’s foremost attribute as one that has had a lasting effect.
“The people!” she said. “I made lifelong friends and had professors who cared about me, with programs that fit exactly what I needed.”
For those looking to author an important chapter of their lives, Bal imparted the advice:
“If you're looking for a beautiful campus, close community, outstanding – and growing – academic programs and a college experience to actually prepare you for a career, check out what Pitt-Johnstown has to offer.”