Family, religion mold teen’s life

Joanne Lee

Photo of Katie Dirks by Asa Lory
It’s a Monday, and it’s 5 in the morning. Instead of sleeping or cramming in the last bit of homework, senior Katie Dirks gets ready to attend a morning seminary at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which starts a 6:20 a.m.
That’s how she starts a day. In this occasion, she happened to spend time with her cousin and second cousin eating a big breakfast at IHOP, afterwards going to her classes in RBHS and CACC. She has attended morning seminaries at the Church of Jesus Christ ever since ninth grade.
On the surface Dirks may seem to have an incredibly straightforward life; a professed follower of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and an athletic enthusiast, she has an acute interest in agriculture business. However, many factors molded her into the person she is now –  the biggest influence being her unique family.
“My mom and my aunts are loud in terms of volume and also boisterous energy,” Dirks said. “I grew up looking up to my aunts who are highly independent and success driven. [However], our family has a motto, ‘no sucess can compensate for failure in the home.’ Our family is pretty close-knit.”
Another gift her family gave her is her faith. However, she said being a Mormon is not always easy for her in this world filled with dominantly negative stereotypes about her religion. She remembers a time in math class when a group of boys talked offensively about Mormons and faced an awkward moment when her friend told these boys that she was a member LDS, herself.
“Some people are not all that nice about it. Sure, I’ve been through trials for my faith,” Dirks said. “Some of my friends wonder about how I do it sometimes, too, not party or any of that stuff, keep myself clean and still be happy the way I am.”
Indeed, she loves her “pure” – as she calls it – lifestyle, however, only one of my parents is a member of the church and in no way does she force or make sure that Dirks live her life with only restrictions.
” I respect the high morals and values that my religion teaches, so therefore I choose to live by them,” Dirks said. “She doesn’t have to [force my faith] because I choose to live my life this way and it was not forced upon me. This religious lifestyle brings me great happiness and content. ”
However, as strict as all these rules may appear, Dirks calls her both of her parents “chill.” They allow her a  large amount of freedom (her school schedule being quite open – two AUTs total) with their trust of her whereabouts. Dirks said her parents never push her to an overwhelming degree, also allowing her to make the big decisions such as her life after high school. “They’re so chill,” Dirks said, that they are currently living with two family guests from Iowa and Hawaii respectively ever since Christmas: her 70-year old grandfather, cousin and second cousin. She is awed by her grandfather’s wisdom and she adores her little second cousin in the house.
Dirks is involved with the FFA- Agriculture club, used to swim competitively for RBHS and now swims at Wilson’s Recreation Center where she is an employee.  After the summer, however, Dirks has other plans. She has a dream planned out after graduation. She has applied and been accepted to Brigham Young University and hopes to head to its campus in Idaho next fall.
“I’m ready for college,” Dirks said, “I’m going to college to educate myself so I will be better equipt to support myself and my future family.”