In an age when handwriting has fallen by the wayside, Kaitlyn Gillespie is celebrating the written word.
The 26-year-old mother of one recently placed second in the World Handwriting Competition for her print submission.
Gillespie heard about the competition four years ago and went to work on her penmanship.
This year it paid off and her already lovely handwriting now has a perfected shape with uniform spacing and characters.
"I just do it because I want to do it," she said.
The award did not come with money and acclaim, just a nice calligraphy set.
"Which is super-exciting for me. I am thrilled about it."
The organization that holds the contest is non-profit in an effort to encourage world-wide participation. And it works.
The web site shows categories and winners along with samples of handwriting. The current reigning champ is from Nepal.
"Kaitlyn was going against very stiff competition world-wide," said Head of the World Handwriting Competition Kate Gladstone.
Gillespie's second place winning entry is in the functional handwriting or manuscript category for ages 20-64. The first place winner is from India.
According to the web site, the World Handwriting Contest evaluates based on legibility, fluency and general competence. This year's competition had 842 submissions.
To enter, every contestant submits one entry with the exact same quote on a sheet of paper. The categories include print, manuscript and artistic. They also cover a number of age groups.
Though the second place finish did not come with monetary benefits, her skills with a pen are helping her make a living.
"Kaitlyn's is beautiful, efficient handwriting," Gladstone said.
She works for brides addressing invitations for their weddings and doing chalkboard work for receptions and celebrations. She is also currently working to be a certified wedding planner.
Gillespie is just finishing a freelance project for a new company in Manhattan.
"I am actually working with a company in New York who is launching a lifestyle brand in October," she said. "I did all the lettering for her glasses."
Though today's elementary classrooms are not focusing on handwriting, Gillespie has had an interest in developing hers since she was in the fourth grade.
"I remember the day I heard my teacher say I need to pursue this," she said. "I thought it was so neat because of my mom. I wanted to be just like my mom."
Gillespie's mother is a calligrapher, but the family affinity for handwriting goes further back.
Gillespie's grandfather would give his grandchildren stationery for Christmas because he preferred letters to phone calls.
Now in his 80s, Gillespie said he has given the kids binders so they can keep all the letters he has written them.
"He was an architect, so he is creative. He encouraged us to write," she said.
She considers herself a big letter writer as a result and is passing the trait down to her own 7-year-old son, Easton.
She insists on handwritten thank you notes for birthday gifts and plans to have him enter the handwriting competition next year.
"They do a younger age group and they only have to write a few sentences," she said.
As for her future in the competition, her husband has asked repeatedly how many years she would continue to submit her work.
"Until I win," she said. "I will definitely do it next year because there is always first place."