Award-winning journalism student finds opportunities

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And he hopes to help change the world, he says, one story at a time

What’s it like to be a Husker walk-on? To be a kid on the football team doing all the work but getting little of the glory?

What’s it like to be a Vietnam vet struggling with PTSD, who finally finds some peace through yoga?

Faiz Siddiqui, a student in UNL’s College of Journalism and Mass Communications, asked these questions. His stories on these subjects recently won two top awards in the Hearst national writing contest – considered the Pulitzer Prize of college journalism.

“I don’t think I’m the pinnacle of anything,” he says. “But it’s just a really tremendous honor.”

He placed third in feature writing and fourth in sportswriting.

His winning feature story was about Vietnam War veterans who cope with post-traumatic stress through yoga.

“There are veterans in a lot of places and there’s yoga in a lot of places,” he says. “But seriously sit down and look at those words next to each other and you’ll realize that there’s a bigger story there.”

The main subject of the story said that doing yoga improved the quality of his life. For years he had recurring images of soldiers dying and bombs exploding but when he did yoga and could just breathe, he was able to relax.

With the story about the Husker walk-ons, he says, he wanted to shed a light on a whole different side of the football program.

“You know, a lot of the time sports sections only focus on the athletes who put in spectacular performances every night,” he says. “That’s fine and all, but journalistically, you’re only getting half the story when you do that.”

Coming to UNL from his home state of Ohio presented a refuge, he says, a place where he could leave and do journalism in a new place.

He says he wouldn’t be in Nebraska without the help of the Harold and Marian Andersen Honors Scholarship, which covers most of the out-of-state fees.

“I don’t think I would have the opportunities elsewhere that I do here,” Faiz said.

Faiz writes columns for the Daily Nebraskan, UNL’s student newspaper, and he writes blog posts for Complex magazine. He hopes to one day do something related to politics, maybe investigative work or column writing.

And he hopes to help change the world, he says, one story at a time.

“I don’t really get the fulfillment that I want out of plain storytelling without it actually having some sort of deeper significance or deeper implications.”

Student support is one of the top priorities of the Campaign for Nebraska. If you would like to help students like Faiz change the world, please consider giving online or contact the University of Nebraska Foundation at 800-432-3216.

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