WASHINGTON, Sept. 27, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- The National Press Club, the world's leading professional organization for journalists, has chosen Shradha Dinesh of Ashburn, Va., as the winner of its 2021 Richard G. Zimmerman Award. The award, for graduating high school seniors, is a one-time scholarship of $5,000.
Dinesh won over the judges with her role in bringing Rock Ridge High School's moribund newspaper back to life, as well as with her writing skills.
Her English teacher Katy Greiner wrote that during Dinesh's freshman year, "I mentioned my attempts to 're-launch' the paper" to the class, "hoping she would join in." The result was The Blaze, now in its third year and with 45 staff members under Dinesh's leadership.
"I can say without hesitation that she is the driving force," wrote Dinesh's teacher, who also says Dinesh is a mentor, earns her peers' respect with her guidance and "raw talent," and her "dedication to thanking her staff with handwritten notes."
In her application essay, Dinesh wrote that "as an Indian American, it is glaringly evident that newsrooms lack coverage of South Asian communities save for the occasional election-season op-ed or racist caricatures in entertainment." She said that students clearly desire diversity in "literature with LGBTQ+ and ethnically diverse characters and authors."
Dinesh is attending the College of William & Mary in Virginia and hopes to become a journalist.
Dinesh learned copyediting and photography, and as editor in chief of The Blaze undertook more ambitious projects like podcasts. She also filed her first Freedom of Information Act request. As her English teacher notes, if the staff needed a photo of a football game or a last-minute change to design, "Shradha was there."
"Not only did Shradha help revive her high school newspaper, she has ensured that it will thrive," said Lisa Matthews, National Press Club president. "Her work to grow a true team and guide others as a mentor shows us the leadership young journalists can demonstrate as they work toward a common goal. This scholarship isn't just an award — it's an investment in a journalist who will have a great impact on others through her work."
The runner up for this scholarship was Naomi Jordan of Pinetop, Ariz.
The Richard G. Zimmerman Scholarship is named for a long-time National Press Club member who died in 2008 and endowed a scholarship to support high school seniors who wish to pursue a career in journalism.
Dinesh is one of dozens of award winners who will be honored at the National Press Club's Annual Journalism Awards Dinner, to be held virtually from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on December 8, 2021. The National Press Club's Journalism Awards celebrate the best in American broadcast and print journalism.
Scholarship winners and runners-up are also awarded one-year complimentary membership to the National Press Club.