By Tami Nguyen
The Asian American Journalists Association’s Sports Task Force is proud to announce Susan Wong as the 2021 recipient of the Al Young Sports Journalism Scholarship.
Wong, pursuing a sports journalism major with a focus on photojournalism at Arizona State’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism & Mass Communication, is the sixth recipient of this scholarship. Wong is the second woman and the first sophomore to receive the award.
“Susan is a well-rounded champion,” said STF scholarship co-chair Tami Nguyen. “Her dedication to sports photojournalism is admirable, and she is doing all of this so early in her career. It’s great to see more women in sports at AAJA.”
Wong credits her parents’ insistence that she keep a daily journal early in elementary school as the start of her “journalistic journey” as a writer. From there, her interest and participation in sports — including football, where she played in a tackle league — combined with her ability to shoot photos, planted the seed early on for a career in sports media. She joined her high school paper as a reporter; by her junior year, she was promoted to sports editor and eventually, editor-in-chief.
“My favorite thing about journalism is that you have to be so multifaceted and have all these different skills and that’s something I take pride in,” Wong said. “Journalism allows me to be creative and use all my different skills to talk to people, get to know them and tell their stories.”
While working at her high school paper, Wong was assigned to photograph her first football game. The staff photographers were unavailable to cover the story, and this became the first opportunity for Wong to shoot with a DSLR camera.
“The photo editors were really amazed by my photos and that encouraged me to continue shooting photos,” Wong said. “I just fell in love with it. At the end of the day, photos and visuals are just another way to tell stories.”
Wong is involved in several roles on campus. She serves as the president of ASU’s AAJA student chapter, treasurer of the Multicultural Student Journalists Coalition, co-social media chair of the Association for Women in Sports Media and assistant photo director for the Walter Cronkite Sports Network.
“Susan is already being called a ‘rising star’ by many of her Sports Task Force peers,” Young said. “In reading about her accomplishments, it’s easy to see why.”
While Wong was driving to cover a recent softball game, she was informed by Young that she was the recipient of this year’s Al Young Sports Journalism Scholarship.
“I felt so honored that Al took the time to personally call me and congratulate me for it,” Wong said. “It means a lot to me and my family. I called my mom when I got off the phone with Al and she was really happy for me”
The Al Young Scholarship is named after the nation’s first Asian American sportswriter at a metro daily newspaper who also was a trailblazer as the first to cover the NFL as a beat writer and the first to write a weekly column on women’s sports. During a career that spanned four decades, Young was a writer and editor at several publications, including the Boston Globe, USA Today and the New York Daily News, before retiring in 2012.
“Al Young led the path for us Asians in sports journalism,” Wong said. “I want to be able to do the same for young women in our industry.”
“I felt really honored and also really thankful for all the women who have paved the way for the next generation of young women,” Wong said. “I’ve always advocated for more representation in sports and in media, especially those who have been historically underrepresented in these categories.
“It means so much to me, to win such an esteemed award and to win a scholarship that can help me advance my studies, it motivates me to keep working hard and working towards my goals.”
“Hopefully,” Young said. “Winning this scholarship will move her another step closer to realizing that dream.”
2021 Al Young Sports Journalism Scholarship judging panel
– Al Young, retired print journalist
– Leighton Ginn, Ginn and Topics
– Karlo Sy Su, ESPN Los Angeles
– Victoria Lim, Journalist/PR/Content
The Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) Sports Task Force has named Brady Wakayama the first ever recipient of the Al Young Sports Journalism Scholarship.
Wakayama, a senior at Washington State University, is a communications major with an emphasis on broadcast journalism and a minor in sports management. He is currently developing his skills as a member of the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication’s Murrow News 8 team, where he has done everything from reporting, writing and producing to anchoring newscasts.
“As the namesake of this award, I’m extremely delighted and proud to congratulate Brady on being the inaugural winner of the AAJA Sports Task Force Journalism Scholarship. This is not only a testament to the hard work and dedication he has already shown early on but, hopefully, this will be another stepping stone toward achieving his sports journalism career dreams,” said Al Young, a retired sports journalist and current advisor to the Quincy College (Mass.) student newspaper.
Currently a student member of AAJA, Wakayama has also shown his support in the Asian American community, volunteering since 2009 at Seattle’s Asian Counseling and Referral Service.
“Brady was among a number of strong applicants for our first scholarship,” said Sports Task Force chairperson Carolyn Hong. “His passion, attitude and commitment to sports impressed all of us on the selection committee. He is a great representative of the nation’s up-and-coming Asian American sports journalists, and we hope there are many more who will follow in his footsteps.”
Wakayama is expected to graduate in May 2016.
“I certainly appreciate the ongoing support and mentorship (of the AAJA Sports Task Force) as I pursue a broadcast journalism career in the sports media industry,” Wakayama said. “The Al Young Sports Journalism scholarship is an unbelievable honor, and has further inspired and motivated me to do great things in this industry.”
The Al Young Sports Journalism scholarship is named after an award-winning journalist whose career spanned more than three decades. Young was the nation’s first Asian American sportswriter at a metro daily.
He was a writer and editor at various publications including the Boston Globe, USA Today and the New York Daily News before he retired in 2014.