While most girls owned music boxes with pop-up, pirouetting ballerinas, I longed for one that was an animated typewriter chiming the notes to “My Favorite Things.” It was at this moment that I knew “what I wanted to be when I grew up”—a writer or editor for a women’s magazine.

   Growing up in Toms River, NJ, I was so ambitious about my journalism aspirations that most of my classmates in high school—and even some of the antagonistic athletes—nicknamed me “Andrea Zuckerman.” They might have intended the Beverly Hills, 90210 reference to the school newspaper-obsessed scholar as an insult, but it was inadvertently received as a compliment. Never the less, as editor-in-chief of The Raider Readout, I was determined to influence the student body and delve into timely-but-taboo topics like homophobia.

   This spirited stamina followed me throughout my college career at Penn State University. Pursuing dual degrees in journalism and women’s studies, I wrote an eating disorder series for The Daily Collegian (PSU's daily, student-run newspaper) that was praised by many Associated Press reporters and my colleagues. Although their feedback was appreciated, the response from eating disorder survivors, thanking me for bringing the issue to the university's attention, was even more gratifying. It caused me to realized the impact of journalism and how much I desired to be a part of that impact.

   Following graduation, I took a reporting job with a Bethlehem, PA based paper, The Express Times, and discovered my true passion for writing features and human-interest stories. The profiles I wrote on local Lehigh Valley residents are some of my proudest work. But the grind of 13-hour days and weekend shifts wore on me, and I opted to refocus on my childhood dream of magazine writing. Little did I know, that decision would require channeling my inner teenager.

   From 1999 to 2008, I became a pop-culture junkie at the monthly teen entertainment publication, J-14 Magazine, where I soared from the rookie ranks of an editorial assistant to the seasoned status of deputy editor. Who else over the age of 25 would admit to touring with Britney Spears, chasing Justin Timberlake in the pouring rain, participating in a pillow fight with High School Musical's Vanessa Hudgens and Ashley Tisdale, or riding a rollercoaster with the Jonas Brothers?

   While interviewing countless celebrities and earning the title of J-14's “think tank” of entertainment, I also developed invaluable writing, editing and managerial skills. During my tenure with the magazine, I worked with the editor-in-chief to determine the editorial content and flat plans, assisted in managing a staff of 12, conceptualized layouts with the art director, assisted in writing and designing the cover, wrote features and cover stories, top edited and fact checked all copy, and final edited all layouts.

   Today, I live in Commack, NY. An antique typewriter music box still sits on a shelf in my office.