Even as a little girl I knew super heroes and Barbies were not real, but super writers were. As a young girl, Judyth Piazza dreamt of becoming a professional writer. She would play with her father’s old Polaroid camera and fedora hat, imagining that she was an ace reporter. She enjoyed terrorizing her neighbors with no-so-optional subscriptions to the Piazza News Day, of which the then-fourth grader was Chief Editor. Piazza recalls, “When most little girls were asking their parents for Barbie and Ken dolls for Christmas, I was asking my parents for Peter Parker and Clarke Kent dolls.
Even as a little girl I knew super heroes and Barbies were not real, but super writers were.
As a young girl, Judyth Piazza dreamt of becoming a professional writer. She would play with her father’s old Polaroid camera and fedora hat, imagining that she was an ace reporter. She enjoyed terrorizing her neighbors with no-so-optional subscriptions to the Piazza News Day, of which the then-fourth grader was Chief Editor. Piazza recalls,
“When most little girls were asking their parents for Barbie and Ken dolls for Christmas, I was asking my parents for Peter Parker and Clarke Kent dolls. Even as a little girl I knew super heroes and Barbies were not real, but super writers were.”
Of course, as often happens in life, this dream of Judyth’s was pushed to the wayside for a little while—but true passions can be suppressed for only so long.
Fewer careers are harder to break into than writing. To do so demands not only talent, but a potent mix of determination and the fierce drive to succeed. About three years ago, Piazza realized that not only did she possess all of these qualities, but that it was finally time to put them to good use. She decided to take a chance and shape her own destiny. In the spring of 2003, this single mother returned to school with the exciting goal of making a name for herself in the world of the written word.
Fueled by her hunger for news and information, Piazza actively sought out any venue through which she could publish her work. George E. Curry, editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service and BlackPressUSA.com, had this to say about Piazza:
“Judy has an unbelievable amount of energy and drive. Once she sets her mind to something, look out world because she’s going to accomplish her goal.”
Working with guidance websites such as The Calder Gazette (www.calder.net) and The College Press (www.thecollegepress.com) led her to success as a nationally recognized print and broadcast media personality. Piazza also found success through branching out into radio, producing and hosting her own programs on the College Press, which impressively total six programs on three frequencies. Still, Piazza felt the need to do more. She resolved to turn her own experiences in climbing the daunting journalistic career ladder into valuable assistance for up-and-coming student writers, helping them accomplish their own goals.
This led Piazza to found The Student Operated Press (www.thesop.org). An internship with the Student Operated Press gives aspiring student writers the opportunity to have their work published, no matter their lack of prior experience. It is rapidly becoming a precious stepping stone on the path to success. Piazza’s personal advice, encouragement and leadership, as well as that of various respected editors and mentors, makes it all the more an indispensable experience for budding writers. The site is packed with tips and resources for writers, while answers to questions are only an e-mail, phone call or instant message away. In addition to being published on the Student Operated Press’ website, which averages approximately 3000 visits per day, young writers are given the chance to contribute to print magazines such as the Local Buzz Magazine and Florida People Magazine.
George E. Curry was so impressed by Piazza’s wish to help other writers that he gladly agreed to be a featured writer for the Student Operated Press. He notes that Piazza “has a passion for helping young people and doesn’t mind asking for help.” Barely five minutes into their first meeting, Curry found himself volunteering his services. “She is so sincere that you want to help her, even if you’ve just met her.”
It is this unbridled encouragement that takes the Press, and those who contribute to it, to the next level. The true beauty of the Student Operated Press is that it is a powerful news source to be reckoned with. In-depth articles on topics ranging from entertainment, literature, politics, current events and everything in between are posted daily. Insightful interviews with figures such as What Healthy People Know author Dr. Bob Gleeson, and Yolanda King, daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., give the Press a competitive journalistic edge.
In fact, many articles published on the Student Operated Press’ website are regularly picked-up by Google News. Not surprisingly, Piazza has set her sights for the Press even higher, in what she calls “The Ten-Year Plan.” In a decade’s time, Judyth would like for the Student Operated Press to be even bigger than CNN and Fox News. Even more impressive—and true to her mentoring nature—she hopes that the press will have played an integral part in the placement of 20,000 students in media-related jobs nationwide.
An ambitious plan, yes, but Judyth Piazza and the Student Operated Press are proof that the right combination of talent and drive can make any dream a reality. As one of Piazza’s favorite quotes by Charles Reade says,
“Sow an act and you reap a habit. Sow a habit and you reap a character. Sow a character and you reap a destiny.”
"Thank you, Judyth. Writing for the SOP has genuinely changed my life, and for the better. You've helped my confidence and determination to succeed more than I can put into words. Hopefully I will be able to contribute again in the summer, and I would love to help mentor other aspiring writers." - Maria Marchisello