Former North Leamington pupils both up for prestigious award for journalism

Shehnaz Khan and Monika Plaha
Shehnaz Khan and Monika Plaha

Two former North Leamington School pupils who are now forging careers in the world of journalism are up for a prestigious industry award.

Shehnaz Khan and Monika Plaha have been shortlisted in the Outstanding Young Journalist of the Year category for the Asian Media Awards, for which the winners will be announced later this month.

The 25-year-olds were in the same year at North Leamington between 2003 and 2008 and later studied on similar journalism-based masters degree courses at City University London from 2013 to 2014, which is when they first got to know each other properly and became friends.

Shehnaz now works part-time as a freelance journalist writing for the Yahoo! News, The Independent and the Huffington Post and also volunteers as a radio presenter for Fresh Coventry and Warwickshire, while Monika now works at BBC Breakfast as a broadcast journalist.

The two had similar upbringings, living in single-parent families with their mothers and siblings within a short distance of one another.

And both were inspired as youngsters by the CBBC programme Newsround.

Shehnaz said: “The thing which I like most about journalism is being able to give a voice to the voiceless and writing about the things that matter.

“It would be incredible to win the award but I’m just happy to have worked so hard and been recognised by being nominated.

“If I don’t win it would be incredible if Monika did, she works so hard.”

Monika added: “It has not been easy to get here. It is a very competitive industry and you get a lot of knock backs along the way.

“I didn’t think I would make the list of nominees so I am pleasantly surprised.

“If I don’t win I’d be really happy if Shehnaz does instead, I’m really proud of her.”