Major: Broadcast Journalism/ Dance
Hometown: Prescott, Ariz.
Beauty, brains, and personality are a lethal combination. When you throw in talent and drive you’ve got as close to perfect as we’re willing to venture; meet Piper Stoeckel. This future face of journalism is not only quick on her feet; she’s graceful on them as well. Stoeckel as a freshman was one of only 30 accepted into the class of 2012 dance program at University of Arizona among a group of close to 500 hopefuls. Although dance is her passion, she developed a love affair with broadcast journalism and is currently interning at local station KGUN9 following her summer internship at fellow station KOLD13. Stoeckel is on track to graduate in May. Before she takes over the newsroom, HerCampus took a turn at asking the questions to get the scoop on this dancer turned dateline.
HC: How long had you been dancing before applying to the UA dance program?
Stoeckel: I started dancing when I was 6 years old but didn’t start competing until I was 10. Around my junior year of high school I took a few classes here on campus but really didn’t plan on spending my college years in Tucson. Still, I auditioned October 2007, my senior year. It was months before I heard anything back. Once the news came that I had gotten into the dance program, I sat down with my parents and weighed the pros and cons. UA has one of the best programs in the nation with an incredible facility; I couldn’t turn it down.
HC: Dance is highly competitive here, how did you find time for journalism?
Stoeckel: I got to perform a lot last year and it was great but it does include extensive rehearsal time. There were weeks where after class I would have rehearsal on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 3pm – 9pm. I still love dance and it will always be my passion however, I’ve stepped back from it this year. I went back and forth between journalism and dance a lot but with broadcast journalism I feel like I’ve really found my career. The opportunity to work your way up is much more visible, it’s realistic. Dance would be and could be fun as a profession but it’s just not as concrete.
HC: Does your dance journey end here?
Stoeckel: I really can’t say. Maybe I’ll hit a wall one day (in journalism) but it’s just not something I know. Dance is my outlet, my passion; when it becomes your career, something you have to do, it can ruin it. Now that I’m not dancing as much, when I do go take a class, I truly love being there; it’s the ultimate high.
HC: Now that your sites are set on journalism, how were you introduced to your KOLD summer internship and what kind of experience was that for you?
Stoeckel: I went to an internship fair last spring and interviewed with KOLD for their summer internship and KGUN for their fall internship. I ended up receiving both and was just excited to get a chance at outside experience. I thought it would be a lot of fun and so far it has been wonderful but there are a lot of difficult moments too. I remember a particular story that really tugged at my heart when I was in the field with one of the reporters from KOLD. We covered a story on a missing girl and seeing the emotion first hand from her family as we sat down with them in their living room was really tough. I remember thinking, “What am I getting myself into?” Not every story is like that but news reporting is really what I want to do and interning has been so helpful. You can’t read how a newsroom works or teach late breaking news; you have to experience it.
HC: Can we expect to see you on CNN in coming years?
Stoeckel: I consider myself to be pretty realistic. You have to start in a small market and build your way up; it only benefits you. As of right now I’ll take a job wherever I have an offer. From there I’ll keep going until I find a town that I want to settle in. I want to be somewhere that I’m comfortable and where I feel like I can reach my potential.
HC: Give us a dream job scenario.
Stoeckel: I’ve actually recently developed an interest in government political reporting, slowly but surely. I know that right now is not the time but maybe five or 10 years down the road, getting into law and being a correspondent for the Whitehouse. Other than that, I just want to be happy. As for dancing, it will always be a part of my life. Once I get ahead in journalism I’ll find my way back to the dance shoes.
HC: Any words of wisdom to your peers and fellow journalism students?
Stoeckel: Internships, internships, internships! You have to get the outside experience. Take your assignments seriously, not everything can be taught in a classroom. My biggest pet peeve is hearing students talk about doing internships “later” or how they’ll just head to a big city after graduating and become a lead anchor. It doesn’t work like that, you need to be realistic and understand that you have to start somewhere.
It doesn’t take a news team, or HerCampus for that matter, to gather that Piper Stoeckel will certainly be an impacting force in the world of journalism. Whether she finds herself comfortable in a small town or making her mark on Capitol Hill, we can expect professional, passion driven news from this campus celebrity.