Born and raised in Crown Point, Alaa Abdeldaiem has grown to be a lover of many things. Her plentiful collection of loves includes journalism, sports, friends and family. On March 13, she was honored with the title of Indiana Student Journalist of the Year. Her unwavering dedication to journalism has led her to be recognized statewide and now nationally.
In order to become a finalist, she had to create an online portfolio displaying her most significant work. Along with each piece were personal comments of hers explaining what each of them meant to her. She also had to provide three letters of recommendation, her transcripts, a self-analytical essay and something to display her leadership skills to the Indiana High School Press Association (IHSPA).
“[Winning this award] hasn't sunken in yet. I am extremely honored to have earned this title. My freshman year, I went down to Indianapolis for an essay I had submitted, and I had the chance to watch my friend get honored with an award. It was mind-boggling to me, and opened my eyes because all of the students there had such incredible characteristics inside and outside of journalism. To be a freshman and see that, motivated me to be on that stage and get awarded like they were. I never imagined that I would be able to say that not only was I a finalist, but I was also the Indiana Student Journalist of the Year. I wanted to do everything I could to make the school paper something good and to share the stories of people who deserve the spotlight. To be honored for something I love to do means the world to me,” Abdeldaiem said.
From here, Abdeldaiem and her portfolio will be traveling to Denver, Colorado in April, where she will be considered for the title of National Student Journalist of the Year.
Journalism is a fairly new love of hers that blossomed at the end of her eight grade year. Before then, she used to write her own books, fiction being her primary focus. She became a member of her high school’s newspaper staff while in her sophomore year.
During her first year on her school’s newspaper staff, she picked up stories of any kind, learning the ropes of each type, broadening her writing skills and strengthening them for her upcoming years. Her junior and senior year, Abdeldaiem became the newspaper’s sports editor, editing sport articles, writing them and putting her whole heart into the art of sports writing.
“When I first joined the newspaper, I made up my mind that I was just going to write sports articles. For the longest time ever, I've wanted to write for Sports Illustrated. I've been a subscriber of theirs for several years, and sports have always been my go-to. Being a sports editor, I learned a new side of sports writing where it is not necessarily just recapping a game, but where you can feature someone, and share their voice. I love being the person that is able to share the life of someone who is doing something remarkable,” Abdeldaiem said.
As a dedicated sports fanatic, she is inspired by athletes and accredits her accomplishments to boys’ basketball coach, Clint Swan.
“Coach Swan was a big part of my journalism career; he treated me like a professional. He put me on the same level as other journalists, which made me feel very special. To see him and the team shine as we won Sectionals was a ‘we made it’ moment. To be able to speak with him after the game made me feel like a bigger part of the experience,” Abdeldaiem said.
Her passion for sports stems from watching athletes who eat, sleep and breathe the game. By watching them do what they love, Abdeldaiem is doing what she loves.
Abdeldaiem’s plans for her future are still up in the air, but as of now, she hopes to attend Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) in the fall. She is in the middle of deciding her educational path and is considering biology as a major. Her heart belongs to sports medicine and sports journalism, both of which she may get involved with later in life.
Abdeldaiem doesn't want to drop journalism once she enters college because it has given her endless opportunities, and has allowed her to meet a broad spectrum of people.
“I think the reason I don’t plan on going into journalism right away is because it is a very difficult field to get into. Once I see the door open, I am going to go after it,” Abdeldaiem said.
Currently, Abdeldaiem keeps busy by participating in a variety of clubs. She is currently the president of the Muslim Student Association at her high school, Student Council member, director of National Honor Society, a violinist in orchestra, Co-Editor-in-Chief of the school newspaper and is also a member of The Pulse, a club that helps unify the school by allowing students to have their voices heard. Previously, she was the president of her mosque’s girls’ youth group for three years, but is now the adviser to the president. She is also the North Central Regional Executive Committee Chair of the Muslim Youth in North America and was also appointed as their Convention Chair.
She works at NWIndianaLife.com as Crown Point High School’s #1NWIStudent. Abdeldaiem is also a private tutor to two elementary students.
She has learned many things from the people that have supported and mentored her throughout the course of her life so far. Wherever the path leads her, Abdeldaiem will take her experiences and continue to enhance the lives of others through her journalism career.
“I don’t think I’d be who I am today without the people I’ve met along the way. It takes so much more than one person to make a newspaper happen, and the fact that I was awarded Indiana Student Journalist of the Year represents them. When I went to receive my plaque, I remember wishing my editors were up there with me,” Abdeldaiem said.