A STUDENT could follow in the footsteps of top female journalists by winning an award.

Daniela Cesarano, 25, a journalism student at Sunderland University, has been short-listed for the Catherine Pakenham Award, which was previously won by former Talk magazine editor Tina Brown and columnist Polly Toynbee.

Ms Cesarano, from Billingham, is one of only 20 candidates chosen from a record entry of more than 200, whose work will now be considered by judges including crime novelist PD James.

If she is one of the four finalists, she will attend an awards ceremony in London, on July 17, and could win the top prize of £1,000 and the chance to write for a Telegraph publication.

Ms Cesarano, who works part-time as a hairdresser and manager in her family's business to support her BA (hons) journalism studies, said: "Attending university has given me a lot of confidence in my writing skills, so I decided to give the competition a go.

"Writing is my greatest passion and I am delighted to be short-listed."

The award was set up in 1970 in memory of a Telegraph Magazine journalist who died in a car crash, aged 23.

It is aimed at encouraging young women journalists, who are asked to submit an unpublished non-fiction article of up to 2,000 words.

Chris Rushton, head of journalism and public relations at Sunderland University, said: "Daniela's achievement is remarkable, particularly since she is a second year student, rather than a working journalist, and we wish her all the best for the next round."