Freshman Shah Ahmad wins Newseum video contest
Photo courtesy of Shah Ahmad / Facebook
Shah Ahmad just started his first year at the Reynolds School of Journalism, and he’s already making a name for himself.
He just won his first video competition in November with Newseum Insititute’s Free Expression on Campus video contest. The national contest was created to highlight universities and campuses that protected free speech in any number of ways. Students were asked to create a video about how their university protected students’ free speech rights.
After meeting with professors like Ben Birkinbine and Paul Mitchell, Ahmad decided to do a video on the Black Lives Matter march that happened earlier this year. Last March, UNR’s Black Student Organization orchestrated a solidarity march with the University of Missouri. He says it was one of the largest student marches on campus, one that encouraged monthly meetings between BSO and University President Marc Johnson.
“We thought it was a great way for students to express themselves, and help our students get connected with a national issue,” President Johnson said in Ahmad’s video.
Using a combination of social media videos, interviews, and film shot on campus, Ahmad created a three minute video to illustrate how the University of Nevada-Reno addressed students’ rights to freedom of speech on campus.
Ahmad was chosen alongside six other students from across the nation, and was recently flown out to Washington D.C. as a part of the competition. At the conference, he met with the other student finalists, as well as the CEO of the Newseum Institute. Each of the students discussed freedom of speech on campuses with students from nearby universities during panels and interviews. Some of the other final videos included drug use on campuses, LGTBQ rights, and controversial speakers.
Part of his inspiration, Ahmad says, was wanting to prove freshman were just as capable as older students.
“Being there had really gotten me excited, being a freshman and being taken seriously,” Ahmad says. “No one thinks you know what you’re doing.”
The three minute video took about six hours to edit, Ahmad says, and was filmed over the course of two weeks. He talked to several people, including students, President Marc Johnson, and the Reno Justice Coalition.
Ahmad says he’s always looking forward, especially when it comes to experience. “Everything you do can be used later,” he says. When he initially found out he had been selected as a finalist, Ahmad was thrilled, he says. He is always, however, looking for the next thing to do.
“Whether you win something or lose something, your mentality should always be ‘What’s next?’” Ahmad says, quoting actor Robert De Niro. “I’m happy, I’m excited, but I also have the mentality of ‘Ok, what’s next?’”
Watch the winning video: