Roberta Codemo always wanted to be a writer.
She’s been writing since she could hold a pencil in her hand. When she was a senior in high school, The Hillsboro Journal hired her to cover high school sports. Her first day on the job she was sent to cover the Old Settlers Day parade, an annual event in Hillsboro. While employed at the paper, her responsibilities included proofreading and designing the layout of The M & M Journal, editing and designing the layout of the annual Year in Review section and writing copy and designing the layout of the Entertainment Page, which she started and is still running today. She jokes she did everything but run the printing press.
During her 10 years with the paper, she trained under the tutelage of an award-winning publisher and editor, Phil Galer, who taught her the newspaper business. She covered local news, police beat, society news and even wrote obituaries. It was a great learning experience.
After she left, she moved to Springfield to finish her degree in legal studies from Sangamon State University but the newspaper business was in her blood. While holding a series of low-paying, unfulfilling jobs, she started freelancing for The Illinois Times and has been writing for them for more than 20 years. She never found a job where she “fit” in.
She has always had an interest in medicine. In high school, she wanted to be a neurosurgeon. Along her career trajectory, she obtained licensure as an emergency medical technician and has worked as a sleep technician.
Late in life, she fell in love with archaeology and chose to return to school to pursue a second degree in anthropology because, as she put it, “if I want to write about archaeology, I want to show that I have the credentials.” She received her degree from Illinois State University in 2009.
That was a turning point in her life. She graduated with no job opportunities on the horizon and began writing for a content mill to support herself, which she describes as a low point in her career. It also reawakened her dream of becoming a full-time writer. She started building her client base and three years later achieved her dream.
In 2014, she was diagnosed with endometrial and ovarian cancer and was unable to work for almost a year. She considers herself fortunate that her clients stayed with her during this time and often asked how she doing while she was in treatment. When she was declared NED (no evidence of disease) in December that year, her clients welcomed her back with new assignments.
She specializes in health and travel writing, and her business continues to grow. She was recently given her own column in Springfield Business Journal, where she writes about local artisans, and is the calendar editor for the New York and Illinois editions of Destinations Magazine.
As a cancer survivor, she is a passionate cancer advocate and has written about gynecological cancer for multiple publications. She is skilled at translating complex medical issues into readable copy that the regular reader understands. One of her biggest coups was landing an assignment with Cure magazine.
She enjoys drinking whiskey, traveling and performing on stage and is working on a horror novel in her spare time. She shares her space with a demanding black cat named Coal.