Senior runs her own newspaper

Abeeha Shamshad uses her words to draw attention to national political issues

Back to Article
Back to Article

Senior runs her own newspaper

Senior Abeeha Shamshad poses with her political newspaper, North Star.

Senior Abeeha Shamshad poses with her political newspaper, North Star.

Senior Abeeha Shamshad poses with her political newspaper, North Star.

Senior Abeeha Shamshad poses with her political newspaper, North Star.

Rebekah Cha, Staff Writer

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

As a part of a generation where many teenagers avoid reading the news and view politics and government with indifference, Cal High senior Abeeha Shamshad manages to run her own political newspaper.

Shamshad’s political newspaper, North Star, is affiliated with the Junior Statesmen of America (JSA), a national youth organization and civics education program promoting political literacy and voter awareness to high school students.

“I feel like when you’re Pakistani, an immigrant, and a girl, you have no choice but to get involved in politics,” Shamshad said. “I want to show people  they have access to resources and that there are options, whether it’s political or not.”

Since sophomore year, Shamshad has participated in nearly all of the levels of the JSA organization – local, regional/state, and national – and has even stood as an assembly representative for Cal High at one of its local chapter conferences.

Shamshad sent in an application online last year to become editor in chief of JSA’s news department. Although there has been a newspaper at the national JSA level, Shamshad’s paper is the first to represent the state level.

As a JSA member, Shamshad has worked her way up into becoming vice president of its regional East Bay level, and has become a chapter internal affairs agent at the regional level.

As chapter agent, Abeeha works to help ‘dying’ or inactive regions, such as California. Shamshad’s decision to start her own newspaper was the result of her interactions with JSA.

“The sort of essence and goal that journalism has, which is to inform and to encourage opinions, are what we work toward in JSA,” Shamshad said. “We strive to end apathy.”

As her closest reviewers, Shamshad’s family and friends are proud of her passionate work ethic and affiliation with JSA.

Shamshad’s twin sister, Cal senior Saneeha Shamshad supports her from a distance.

“It’s great that she’s found something she’s passionate about,” Saneeha Shamshad said.

Shamshad’s  AP  Government teacher Brandon Andrews was  unaware of North Star, but he was impressed with Shamshad’s affiliation.

“As Abeeha’s teacher, I am very proud that my student is doing such an honorable act,” said Andrews. “I am impressed that she’s using her speech in a positive way.”

But many people do not fully understand Shamshad’s passion and drive for her newspaper.

“My friends see me as a token of a political friend but most of them are apathetic to causes,” Shamshad said. “As for my parents, they don’t really understand why I’m in JSA.”

Shamshad and her staff work mostly from home during their individual times.

“All work done is self-motivated, which I love, but I know it can be a hassle,” said Shamshad. “However, I feel I have an important position of privilege, one where I can start conversations and really get opinions forming.”

Assigned with her own pair of writers and a cartoonist, Shamshad receives their submissions and organizes them in a layout to be dispersed during JSA’s annual statewide conventions in Northern California.

The conventions that Shamshad attend are hosted three times a year and they allow fellow students to discuss and debate current politics.

The readers for the printed issues range from about 500 to 1,000 delegates, who are Shamshad’s fellow teens, or junior statesmen, who attend the annual conventions.

North Star’s online articles are published once or twice a month and garner about 2,000 viewers on their website, which can be found of the NorCal JSA offcial website.

Shamshad has passionate stances when asked about controversial topics, and admits to the difficulties of running a newspaper.

“We try to relay straight facts here, but it can be difficult as an organization,” Shamshad said. “As Californians, there’s always going to be a liberal bias in what we do.”

When she and her writers were granted the approval to run a newspaper for JSA, they were specifically told “Not to be a joke.”

“Especially being in an election year, it’s really hard to cover certain topics,” Shamshad said. “Our goal is to start conversations and we want people to see something and think about how this might be right, wrong, or what could be different.”

The topics that North Star covers are generally widespread, ranging from social issues to economic policies. She stays updated on current events by keeping track of many activists.

“Watching news on CNN is nice, but I found that reading the actual legal reports is more helpful,” Shamshad said. “If you see something on the news, regardless if it makes you sad, happy, or angry, see the reports and look beyond your own issues.”