Roshan Fernandez wins 2020 Al Young Sports Journalism Scholarship

By Josh Tolentino

Roshan Fernandez

The Asian American Journalists Association Sports Task Force is proud to announce Roshan Fernandez as the 2020 winner of the Al Young Sports Journalism Scholarship. 

Fernandez, a magazine, newspaper and digital journalism major at Syracuse, is the fifth overall – and first freshman – recipient of the award. 

“Roshan’s accomplishments, dedication and passion as a sports journalist, at such a young age, caught my eye immediately,” said Young, an executive member of AAJA’s Sports Task Force. “I was extremely impressed by his skillset as a writer, interviewer and editor – traits usually found in seasoned journalists and honed over time.” 

“Roshan’s an all-star,” said AAJA Sports Task Force co-chair Michael Huang. “Sports Task Force sees a tremendous future for this young man. The Asian American sports journalism community needs to continue to foster young talent such as Roshan to ensure AAPIs are represented in all newsrooms.” 

Fernandez grew up in Northern California and first became involved with sports reporter as a junior in high school. He worked as a visuals editor at his school newspaper before becoming editor in chief during his senior year. It was then he noticed his interest in sports journalism didn’t match those of his friends. 

“Everyone said they wanted to be a bio major or work at Apple or Google,” Fernandez said. “I was never really interested in those types of things.” 

While working at his high school paper, El Estoque, Fernandez developed a passion in interviewing subjects across the school, specifically in sports. His favorites were soccer and baseball and he felt like he was able to relate easily to many of the athletes. 

“I found it interesting because I sort of knew what they were going through as a student athlete and I wanted to tell their stories,” Fernandez said. “I learned soccer wasn’t going to be my future, and I realized journalism was actually what I wanted to do.” 

Heading into his senior year, Fernandez landed a spot at Northwestern’s Medill Cherubs program, a five-week summer journalism institute intended for rising seniors seeking the inside scoop on professional journalism and looking to connect with peers who are just as passionate about pursuing the same career. 

Fernandez outside the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University

After enrolling at Syracuse, Fernandez joined the campus newspaper, the Daily Orange, where he currently serves as a digital editor. Although his spring semester courses on campus were derailed by COVID-19 concerns, Fernandez is still attending online courses from his home in Cupertino, Calif. Upon completion of the spring semester, he is set to intern with the Chatam Anglers of the Cape Cod Baseball League. Fernandez aspires to be a professional baseball beat reporter. 

“Baseball has it’s 5-tool player, but I think we’ve found our own freshman phenom,” Young said. 

When Fernandez was recently informed he was recipient of the Al Young Sports Journalism Scholarship, he spoke with Young over the phone.

The Al Young Scholarship is dedicated to Young, the first Asian American sports writer to work for a metro daily newspaper. Young worked for several outlets, including the New York Daily News, Boston Globe and USA TODAY before retiring in 2012.   

“He’s had an amazing career, it means a lot for someone to have high praise for a kid like me,” Fernandez said. “He’s been super helpful in terms of giving me advice and guiding me for my future.”

Fernandez hopes to attend his first AAJA convention soon and he plans to become more active within the Bay Area chapter. 

“I hope that,” Young said. “Winning this scholarship so early in his college career will continue to propel him to even greater heights down the road.”