Lena Abdel-Razeq's story about her Muslim school's shoe drive for the people of Kosova was so good, she got a $5,000 scholarship and an internship at U.S. News Online this summer for it.
Abdel-Razeq is the Grand Prize Winner of the Student Online Journalism Awards (SOJA), which awards high school journalists for the best stories in online school publications. It is the first awards program aimed specifically at high school online media.
In her article, Abdel-Razeq described how students at Universal School in Bridgeview, Illinois, collected shoes and money for a shoe drive for the children of Kosova, after realizing people there did not even have this basic necessity.
Abdel-Razeq is also managing editor of her school newspaper The Constellation. Her article was selected over those of about 500 other contestants.
While other young Muslims may be heading off towards careers in medicine and law, fields of prestige and high finances, Abdel-Razeq has decided journalism is her choice.
"We have enough doctors, we have enough lawyers, we need people to go out and represent Islam through the media because the media, whether we want to admit it or not, does control how people see Islam," she said in an interview with RadioIslam.com.
The SOJA contest includes three stages which entrants must pass to get to the finalist level. For the first stage, Abdel-Razeq wrote about Iraq. For the second one, she wrote about RadioIslam.com. Her entry for the finalist category was about the Kosova shoe drive.
The drive has now actually been redirected to Chechnya, where Abdel-Razeq explains, there is more need at the moment.
While Abdel-Razeq will spend a week at U.S. News online this summer, she is to begin studies at De Paul University in the fall, and also hopes to be accepted for a summer internship at RadioIslam.com.