It's a common perception that the field of print journalism is waning, eclipsed by the high-tech glitz and ravenous speed of multimedia news services.

University of Maryland sophomore Rachel Karitis doesn't subscribe to this cynicism. In fact, she's double majoring in history and journalism, and yearns to wriggle her way into the infamously unstable trade.

"I've always liked writing, and it seemed like something I wanted to do for a living," she said. "Once I started taking journalism classes, something clicked. It just felt right."

Karitis, the daughter of former Jim Thorpe resident Joseph Karitis and his wife Debra, lives in Olney, Md., a small town just outside of the Washington D.C. metropolitan area. Her career ambitions were put in the spotlight July 30 when she was made the subject of one of The Washington Post's Coffehouse Stories.

Equal parts social experiment and publicity stunt, the Coffehouse Stories project involved sending several Post writers out into the field in search of vignettes that capture the true essence of the local population. When Karitis heard that one of the participating reporters would be paying a visit to her neighborhood java den, she decided to check out the project firsthand.

"I was done with my class early, so I had to time to swing by," she said. "Josh Du Lac (the Post reporter) and I started talking and it just went from there."

Du Lac and Karitis' conversation ultimately yielded "Young writer finds an outlet in College Park," a profile of Karitis that chronicles her frustrations over her personal portfolio's lack of published news clippings, among other things. As part of the Coffehouse Stories project, Du Lac's piece was submitted along with eight other articles to a voting process controlled by Post readers. The top-voted story was guaranteed appearances in the newspaper's print and online editions.

According to the publication's website, "Young writer" won by a landslide.

"The whole experience was pretty amazing," Karitis said. "I've grown up reading the Post, and I get my news from it every day.

"To actually read about myself for a change was pretty exciting."

Despite her recent brush with fame, Karitis isn't satisfied with sitting back and resting on her laurels. Truthfully, she doesn't have too many laurels to rest on.

"This is the first time any of my work has ever been published," Karitis, who penned the latter portion of the winning piece, said. "It's really tough to get an internship without any clips, so I'm hoping to build up my portfolio this year with the school paper."

To learn more about Karitis's crusade for the written word, read Du Lac's article in its entirety at http://www.washingtonpost.com, keyword "Karitis."