(CBS DETROIT) – The National Press Club, the world’s leading professional organization for journalists, has chosen Laila Nasher, of Detroit, Michigan, as the winner of its 2020 Julie Schoo Scholarship for Diversity in Journalism. The award is given to graduating high school seniors and totals as much as $20,000 over four years.
Nasher’s achievements as a student at Universal Academy in Detroit impressed the judges. She has been published in the Detroit Free Press, with an article on arranged marriages for Yemeni girls in America. And she wrote a wrenching piece on “impostor syndrome” about her efforts to keep one foot in the Yemeni community in Detroit and the other foot in the modern world.
In her statement explaining her interest in journalism, she wrote, “As an aspiring journalist in a school devoid of journalism resources, I had to make do.” Because her school does not have a newspaper, she started one, called “Eagles Uncensored.”
“My publication was a samizdat; I’d print out packets of articles and give them out to students on issues like quality of education, lack of girls’ sports teams, American and Middle East foreign policies, and the fact that most of the courses in my school were permanently taught by substitute teachers.”
Nasher made up for her lack of journalism instruction by becoming a Detroit Free Press intern, and being accepted into Princeton’s Summer Journalism Program.
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“Laila Nasher’s application inspires hope for journalism’s future,” said judge Roberta Baskin. “Her grit and determination to become a journalist are matched by her excellent writing skills. Laila writes with a level of wisdom, nuance, and experience beyond her young years.”
Nasher wants to become a correspondent in the Middle East, using her Arabic language skills, to report on civilians and how they are impacted by U.S. foreign policy. “My commitment to journalism stems from a personal obligation to tell the stories of those who live in environments my family fled,” Nasher said in her application.
She applied to one university, Harvard, and got early acceptance.
The runner-up for this scholarship was Marian Mohamed of Kent, Washington.
“This year has served as a stunning reminder of the vital role of journalism in our democracy and one in which ‘running toward danger’ has been the norm rather than the exception,” said National Press Club President Michael Freedman. “In the end, it will also be about ensuring that journalism survives and thrives going forward. One tangible way we help is by investing in the next generation of reporters and industry leaders and this year’s scholarship recipients certainly represent our best and brightest. They have already shown perseverance and tenacity in their personal journeys and each has demonstrated having the courage of their convictions.”
“Our winners, the runners-up, and all of the applicants give us great hope for the future and we congratulate them,” Freedman said. “We also offer heartfelt thanks to this year’s judges who completed the process with great care and attention under extraordinary conditions. We salute them for their inspirational leadership.”
The Julie Schoo Scholarship for Diversity in Journalism provides $5,000 a year over four years. Named in memory of the late Julie Cooper Schoo, who was Executive Director of the National Press Club’s Journalism Institute, the scholarship is awarded annually to outstanding high school students who are considering a career in journalism and will help create more inclusive, diverse newsrooms.
Nasher is one of dozens of award winners to be honored at the National Press Club’s 47th Annual Journalism Awards Dinner on Wednesday, December 2. The National Press Club’s Journalism Awards celebrate the best in American broadcast and print journalism, recognizing outstanding reporting at both the national and regional levels across every imaginable beat.
Scholarship winners and runners-up are also awarded one-year complimentary membership to the National Press Club.
SOURCE National Press Club
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