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The Story Behind "publishYOUth"

Our founder, Aybala, has always been passionate about writing. From elementary school stories about skating on rainbows to middle school mystery thrillers, she has always loved to channel her creativity onto a blank Word document or paper before her. This love for creative writing followed Aybala as she grew older, albeit with less time to devote to it. Her love for writing became lost in a sea of research papers and projects for her courses, leading her to put a strong pause to her greatest hobby.


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This changed, however, once Aybala opened her school’s newsletter one Spring. Seeing an opportunity recommended by a teacher for a Neuroethics essay contest hosted by the International Neuroethics Society (INS), she decided to give it a try. In this moment she set forth to devote time outside of her classes to brainstorm possible topics. Researching the branches of neuroethics issues and borrowing books from her local library, Aybala eventually discovered a very unique topic. After drafting her essay and accidentally submitting it a month before the true deadline, she waited until December of the next year to suddenly receive an email.

Cautiously, Aybala opened her phone to a message from the International Youth Neuroscience Association (IYNA) Journal. In this message she was informed that she had placed in the international Top 15 of that year’s INS Essay Contest for the High School Division, and that her article would soon be published in their journal! Dashing to a school bathroom to call her parents with the good news, she was ecstatic that her essay on neuromarketing in politics had been recognized.

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After this opportunity (and much celebrating), Aybala realized how grateful she was to have heard about this opportunity from her teacher. While she could have possibly found this contest online, many factors would have come into play before finding the right opportunity. As a busy high school student she would have had to search through countless lists of writing opportunities for those that are:

  1. For youth

  2. For high schoolers specifically

  3. Reliable and not scams

  4. Not already expired

  5. Actually interesting to her!

Do you see how whether she would actually be interested in one of these opportunities is the 5th item on the list? Not to mention country of residence, applications fees, relevant topics… Needless to say, it’s quite a lot. Especially for a student who is likely dealing with school, extracurricular activities, and looking to relax. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could easily filter for what we’re interested in and have the first four steps done for us?

Based off of this desire to make opportunities more accessible and easily organized for her fellow youth writers, Aybala set out to create publishYOUth with guidance from the one-of-a-kind mentors of the entrepreneurship program by The Big Sisters Project. Through publishYOUth she hopes to connect students like herself to writing competition and publication opportunities, and Aybala also aspires to make the website a space through which students can organize their deadlines and garner tips about how to get selected. Aybala also hopes that through facilitating exposure to these opportunities, more students—regardless of socioeconomic status or location—can showcase their talents and work toward building up their resumes and passions.

After all, the main drive behind all writers is their desire and passion to channel their creativity. With publishYOUth, we can skip the logistical steps in the middle of the opportunity search and get directly to creating, just like our elementary and middle school selves.

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