Balentine spent summer interning at KAIT

A photo of Kristina Balentine with KAIT meteorologist Rachel Coulter

When Kristina Balentine received an assignment to write a paper about her hero, she did not choose a movie star or professional athlete like some of her classmates at Hillcrest Elementary School. She chose Jim Cantore, storm chaser and meteorologist with The Weather Channel.

“I didn’t realize just how much atmospheric science interested me at first. I wanted to be a singer, but as I grew older I realized that wasn’t a very realistic career goal, and I didn’t want to lose my love for music by turning it into my career. When I started reflecting on what my other interests were, I realized I love meteorology. I would get excited when I was in the first grade and it was my day at school to report what the weather was,” she said.

Balentine had a chance to further explore her interest in meteorology this summer through an internship with KAIT 8 in Jonesboro from mid-May through mid-August. She put in more than 170 hours during the internship.

“I was blessed to receive the opportunity without having any meteorology classes under my belt yet. I had job shadowed at the station while I was in high school and met Rachel Coulter. She told me to stay in touch. The internship opportunity happened through her,” she said.

Balentine did everything from ghost writing and writing weather descriptions for the seven-day and hourly forecasts to editing weather graphics and even getting a little practice time in front of the green screen herself. She worked with all the members of the weather team including Ryan Vaughan, Justin Logan and Zach Holder.

Balentine is pursuing her associate of science degree in STEM from the University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville. She anticipates graduating in May 2019 and then plans to transfer. While she’s not settled on the next step in her educational journey, she has her eye on Northern Vermont University where her hero, Cantore, is an instructor.

“I had originally planned to go to college in New York, but when that fell through I came to UACCB the next day and enrolled. Smaller schools appeal to me because I want to be a name and not just a number. You receive more personalized help here,” she said.

Balentine participates in the TRIO program and works in the UACCB bookstore. She also works part-time at Old County Seat Store and Café in Smithville where she lives with her parents.