By Sandeep Chandok
The Asian American Journalists Association’s Sports Task Force is proud to announce Paulina Jeng as the inaugural winner of the 2021 Michael Kim Broadcast Fellowship.
Jeng, a 2020 University of California Berkeley graduate, is the first-ever recipient of the $2,000 award, intended to support an early career sports broadcast journalist.
“I am thrilled with the judging committee’s choice of Paulina as the inaugural recipient of this fellowship,” Kim said. “She represents everything this award is and should be. I can’t wait to see where her career takes her.”
“Paulina emerged from a very strong pool of candidates,” STF president Josh Tolentino said. “Our 2021 scholarship/fellowship recipient pool drew the most applicants since STF began offering financial opportunities more than six years ago – a testament to the group’s rapid growth and also to our commitment in helping develop the next generation of AAPI sports journalists.
“Michael Kim is a legend in our industry and we are so excited to introduce Paulina as the inaugural recipient of the Michael Kim Broadcast Fellowship.”
Jeng – also a past recipient of the STF’s ESPN internship (2019) – received the news that she had won the Michael Kim Fellowship STF scholarship while she was in her native Taiwan.
“It took me a minute to process when Josh told me,” Jeng said. “I was kind of still in shock and wasn’t expecting it. But I was very happy and my mom is here with me in Taiwan so I was very excited to tell her and share the news with the rest of my family.”
Jeng said she felt the Kim fellowship resonated with her background because of her passion for digital broadcast.
“I felt that this one was aligned with what I’ve been wanting to do and what I hope to do in the future,” Jeng said. “And of course Michael Kim being Michael Kim, I was very excited to apply for something that was in his honor. He’s been a role model for a lot of journalists so being able to do something with his support meant a lot.”
Jeng said it’s powerful to not only see other people who look like her in the industry, but also Asian American athletes making strides and becoming more prominent figures as well.
“It means a lot to be in this space in a time where people are a lot more cognizant of how different experiences are for women in pretty much any industry and celebrating that,” Jeng said. “For women to get that support from allies is really important and I’m excited to see more women come in this industry.”
Kim is a groundbreaking anchor who opened doors for the Asian community at the Worldwide Leader in Sports. Kim was an anchor at ESPN’s SportsCenter for 17 years and was one of the original anchors who launched the innovative ESPNNews. Now working as the anchor of The Stadium on Marquee Sports Network, Kim has been a proud member of AAJA for decades and is a Sports Task Force legend who has supported the group from its inception.
Jeng said joining the Asian American Journalists Association has been instrumental to her career.
“Being a part of AAJA has been one of the best investments of my time professionally,” Jeng said. “It’s very powerful to be amongst people who understand your struggles in a very detailed way.
“It builds a lot of confidence and a lot of community as well. It’s an honor, really, to be in a community of outstanding journalists who not only have your back, but also believe you have what it takes to succeed.”
2021 Michael Kim Broadcast Fellowship judging panel
– Tommy Tran, CBS Sports HQ
– Lily Zhao, FOX6 Milwaukee
– Melissa Kim, WBAL 1090
– Michele Steele, ESPN
– Cameron Kim, NBC Sports
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
By Nader Issa
The Asian American Journalists Association’s Sports Task Force is pleased to announce Cora Hall and Pranav Iyer as the recipients of the 2021 Jimmie & Suey Fong Yee Fellowship, generously funded by prominent sports agent Don Yee.
The $1,000 awards will go toward registration for the 2021 AAJA national convention later this year, and for the first time will cover expenses associated with reporting a story about Asians or Asian Americans in sports that the two recipients pitched as part of their applications. Hall and Iyer are the 10th and 11th overall recipients of the award.
“Thank you to the STF panel for their work on the 2021 Jimmy & Suey Fong Yee Fellowship,” Yee said. “Our family is very appreciative of STF’s efforts in going through each applicant’s pitch – and we had more applicants than ever to this point.”
“There were many applicants who proved to be qualified,” STF chairman Josh Tolentino said. “AAJA Sports Task Force is extremely grateful for Don Yee’s continued support and his commitment in helping better diversify the sports journalism industry and also advocate for more Asian Americans in sports.”
The fellowship was established with Yee’s support to honor his parents. Yee is one of the NFL’s most respected talent agents, representing several star players and coaches, including Tom Brady, Jimmy Garappolo, Julian Edelman and Sean Payton. Yee said he was excited about both recipients after learning more about their backgrounds, scholarly accomplishments and story pitches.
“Cora’s application asked excellent questions; questions that typically go unanswered or ignored. Cora’s voice and perspective is one that I am excited to support,” Yee said.
“Pranav’s self-initiative shined through in his application. The website, AmaznHQ.com, founded by Pranav, is one-of-a-kind, and I am honored to help him further his career with this fellowship.”
In addition to attending the AAJA national convention toward the end of the summer, Hall and Iyer will work over the next few months — with the help and guidance of the Sports Task Force — to report and pursue the stories they pitched for the fellowship.
Hall is set to graduate later this spring from Ferris State University in Michigan, where she serves as the editor-in-chief of her student newspaper, the Ferris State Torch. She’s interested in investigative sports reporting and said she enjoys the research that goes into those in-depth stories. Hall is also part of this year’s Sports Journalism Institute.
She will attend SJI, a journalism program created to help women and minorities into newsrooms, later this summer and intern at the Kansas City Star as part of the program.
For her story, Hall plans to examine the reasons behind the disproportionate lack of Asian Americans in collegiate sports. Her pitch was heavy on well-researched statistics that show a dramatic rise in Asian American populations in the United States hasn’t led to much increase in Asian American college athletes.
“It’s going to be a really valuable opportunity for me, more than I could really even say,” Hall said of the fellowship. “Because I came out of a really small school, and being able to have an opportunity this big and being able to work to get a story published in probably a bigger publication than I could have done on my own, having that connection is going to do a lot for me.
“It definitely means a lot to me because I come from a high school and a college that are not super diverse or don’t have a very big Asian community. So to find other people from the same culture, from the same background pursuing the same things as me, and to have mentors like that, it’s just another level of encouragement, mentorship that I’ve been looking for.”
Iyer is due to earn a master’s degree in journalism this spring at the University of Southern California. He graduated in May 2020 from Chapman University in California, where he played Division-III football.
While still in school in December 2019, Iyer launched AMAZN HQ, a publication dedicated to covering Asian American athletes, which he called his biggest reporting passion. Iyer said his identity and race play a big part in his work because, while he grew up in a predominantly Asian American community, not many around him dreamt of playing football or being a journalist. Then when he went to pursue his dream of playing football, he was not only the first Indian American teammate his peers ever had, but for some, he was the first Indian they’d ever met. That’s why Iyer was inspired by Yee’s work as an agent in the sports industry.
“Just hearing his story is inspirational,” Iyer said. “And he talks about the Asian American community and his passion for uplifting the community too, that is something that aligns directly with what I hope to do with my career.
“Those are really the types of stories that can help to inspire the community, can help to inspire that change — to give the younger generation inspiration but also to teach society that this change can happen and to see Asian American athletes in a different light.”
Iyer plans to report on an incoming wave of Asians and Asian Americans in professional sports that, while maybe not huge in numbers, looks as promising as ever and could shift the perception of Asian athletes.
Hall and Iyer both believe their introduction into the AAJA community will give them the support and connection they need to survive and grow in their profession.
“My identity plays a lot in the way I do my work and the way I view the industry as a whole,” Hall said. “That status quo as it is, reporters aren’t always thinking about these things. And it’s always the same people getting the same coverage and same voices being uplifted. And I’ve seen a lot of change in that and it’s really inspiring to me and influenced me over the last couple years and how I approach my work.”
“Seeing that representation and being able to connect with them and relate on certain struggles, certain upbringings and how to navigate through some of those, I think that is super important,” Iyer said. “Having that opportunity to form that community, to build these relationships, it’s so much bigger than just networking. I’m hoping it’s in a sense creating a family. …It’s organizations like these that allow people like me to pursue this past the dream.”
2021 Jimmie and Suey Fong Yee Fellowship judging panel
– Josh Tolentino, The Athletic
– Joon Lee, ESPN
– Nicole Yang, Boston Globe
– Michael Huang, ESPN
– Shehan Jeyarajah, Dave Campbell’s Texas Football
Donald H. Yee is a lawyer and partner with Yee & Dubin Sports, which represents professional athletes and coaches, including Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady and New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton.
This statement was prepared by Yee and presented to the Asian American Journalists Association’s Sports Task Force during a virtual panel held Feb. 18. ESPN’s Michele Steele delivered his message.
Thanks to all of you for being here tonight. And thanks to STF for providing me with this platform to pass on this message.
I would like to briefly address two topics tonight: one, the process of finding a job, and two, the environment of rising anti-Asian violence we’re seeing around the world.
I feel like I’ve been trying to find a job my entire life; in fact, one of the reasons I have my own business is because I simply couldn’t find a job that would allow me to grow in the way that I wanted, and without compromising my value system. But while I was looking, I, like many others, went through a lot of rejection, humiliation and embarrassment. There were many, many lows.
I finally came out the other end. And as you begin your job search, there is one trait I have tried to develop within myself, that I believe may help you with your search, and that trait is ‘resilience.’
Resilience is kind of the conclusion, so here are the components that you might want to keep in my mind as you consider developing this trait.
- First, know that rejection is just part of the process – it’s going to happen, but it really does happen to everyone.
- Second, generally speaking, rejection isn’t personal. When I was starting out, I used to personalize my failures and immaturely lash out at decision-makers. I finally learned that, generally speaking, sometimes the decision-makers just made a decision that literally had nothing to do with me, but something more positive about someone else.
- Third, don’t be bashful about asking for help. Learning how to ask for your help is a skill, and if you can overcome any shyness or reluctance, there are a lot of people who are willing to help – even if just a bit.
- Fourth, slowly develop your own network or community, and attending this Zoom is a great start.
- Fifth, be proactive. I would tell myself to just try to do one thing a day that advances me toward my goal; no matter how big or small. I tell my clients all the time that it’s hard to get a rebound if you’re outside the 3-point arc – but if every day you’re inching closer to be under the basket, you increase the chance the ball falls in your hands.
Finally, many of you may be aware of the rising anti-Asian violence. I actually dispute the ‘rising’ part as reported by mainstream media; in my personal experience, there’s always been lots of violence. On a personal note, my barely 5-foot tall mother was mugged twice – from behind – while in her 80’s. I have had many ugly emotions about these events and still do. I still get emotional thinking about it.
I don’t have many answers about what to do, but I do have theories right now. And one is, based on my own experience: keep self-actualizing, in essence, forming who you really are – be conscious of it. Ignore prevailing “narratives” on how to think or conforming to something that doesn’t feel authentic to you. Each of you is unique with different talents, and even though I’m not a journalist, I support STF because I see an army of warriors who’ll tell great stories. Maybe, just maybe, the stories will lead to more knowledge, and maybe that helps reduce the violence.
Thank you for your time and allowing me to share this with you.
Yee is one of Sports Task Force’s greatest supporters. He currently provides two annual fellowships to college students and recent graduates interested in sports journalism. Don created the fellowship to honor his parents, Jimmie and Suey Fong Yee.
Josh Tolentino weighed his options for the summer of 2016.
Full-time, paid internship as a page designer at a small newspaper in Illinois. Or an unpaid sports internship at the Chicago Sun-Times.
He followed his passion, sports.
His 90-minute commute downtown, consisting of buses and trains, ate in his savings, and he worried that he wouldn’t be able to attend the seminal event of his summer: the Asian American Journalists Convention in Las Vegas. He had attended the previous year, meeting the Asian broadcasters, anchors, editors and sportswriters he admired. And as he prepared for his senior year, he felt it essential to attend again.
But the cost was prohibitive.
Then he discovered that respected agent Don Yee was offering, in honor of his parents, a scholarship to the convention through the Sports Task Force.
Tolentino applied… and he was the inaugural winner of the Jimmie & Suey Fong Yee Scholarship, which provided a college student up to $1,000 in travel-related expenses and accommodations for the convention in Las Vegas.
“I was overwhelmed,” Tolentino said. “I had been telling myself that I would make it happen. But, deep down, if I didn’t get that scholarship from Don, I wouldn’t have been able to go.”
In Las Vegas, in a hotel lobby, Tolentino was introduced to Yee by STF mentor and leader Ohm Youngmisuk. Tolentino reached into his bag and pulled out a copy of the Sun-Times, featuring one of his stories on the back cover.
“It was a real honor to meet Josh,” Yee said. “He is an impressive guy… and he has a bright future. I hope I can help him and others any way I can.”
To that end, Yee is offering two scholarships for travel to this year’s convention in Philadelphia, one for a current college student and a second for someone who has graduated within the last three years.
“I wanted to add a second scholarship because I want to help as many people as I can and because what journalists do is so important,” Yee said. “The industry is undergoing so much change, and it’s difficult for journalists to get support — so I want to do what I can.”
STF chair Howard Chen said he’s “amazed” by Yee’s willingness to help aspiring sports journalists.
“Both college students and fresh college graduates usually go through a financial struggle in order to pursue their dreams,” said Chen, ESPN’s international producer overseeing NBA video content for China. “The fact that Don is helping both groups speaks to who he is as a person and, on behalf of the Sports Task Force, we are so thankful for Don’s support!”
Yee’s parents have influenced his desire to help STF and other organizations.
Jimmie and Suey Fong Yee immigrated to the U.S. when China fell under Communist rule, and they settled in Sacramento. They endured many hardships as they created a new life for themselves and their family. But Jimmie and Suey Fong instilled in their children the importance of kindness.
A founder and partner of Yee & Dubin Sports, Yee’s clients include New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton, among many others. He’s also a notable speaker and writer.
Yee said his family has been very supportive of the scholarship.
“All of us know how encouraging our parents were to us,” he said, “and we’re just glad to be able to help however we can.”
“I always leave feeling inspired,” he said. “There is so much talent there — I come from outside the journalism industry so perhaps I have a more objective view, but the level of talent, drive and smarts is impressive.”
As Tolentino approaches graduation from Illinois State, he said he’s thankful for Yee and STF’s continued support.
“Don’t think twice: Apply,” Tolentino said. “You never know the chances you have. Don and the organization have been so helpful and instrumental, not just with the scholarship.
“I can never stop saying thank you to them enough.”
Josh Tolentino, a senior at Illinois State University, is the inaugural winner of the The Jimmie & Suey Fong Yee Scholarship.
Don Yee, a founder and partner of Yee & Dubin Sports, created the scholarship to honor his parents and encourage a current college student to attend the 2016 AAJA convention in Las Vegas in August by helping to cover travel expenses.
“My parents really emphasized helping others,” Yee said in announcing the scholarship in March. ” The other inspiration is what journalists do every day in trying to communicate stories of importance – it’s important to me that we have good and strong journalists in society.
“I support the AAJA Sports Task Force because there are a lot of good people I’ve met who’ve overcome a lot to get where they are and because those same people are enthusiastic about telling a wider range of stories.”
Tolentino, the sports editor at his university’s newspaper, is now a sports intern at the Chicago Sun-Times. When informed of his selection by Justin Seiter of AAJA, Tolentino said he was encouraged and overjoyed.
I would also like to thank the selection committee for their consideration and vote of confidence in me. I promise to carry out and promote our mission to journalists around the country. I am deeply committed to my education and sports journalism career, and am one step closer to my goal with this scholarship.
I was nervous when I attended my first AAJA convention last year in San Francisco. Looking back, I laugh at how hesitant I was before the convention. I met so many motivational professionals and students alike at AAJA.
I appreciate the endless support of my many mentors and the AAJA Sports Task Force as I continue my studies at Illinois State University and my journey as an aspiring journalist. Carolyn Hong, Michael Huang, Sean Jensen, Leighton Ginn, Cary Chow and Howard Chen are just few of the many inspiring professionals who have helped me reach this point. I’m blessed to not only call them my mentors but also very good friends.
While writing a recent story on White Sox 2B Brett Lawrie, I discovered he had a very close relationship with his sister, Danielle, who is a softball analyst for PAC-12 Network and ESPN. I was able to use Hong as a resource in securing an interview with Danielle. Hong connected me with Danielle’s ESPN publicist, mentioning our AAJA relationship and I was able to successfully interview Lawrie.
Jensen has also been an awesome mentor and teacher. I was lucky enough to cover parts of the 2016 NFL Draft through my connection with Jensen, who put in a good word for me with NFL media relations. In Chicago, I conducted interviews with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the second overall pick, Carson Wentz. My attendance at the draft along with Jensen’s promotion of my stories helped boost my readership and brand.
Mr. Ginn continues to put forth immeasurable efforts in promoting all AAJA Sports Task Force members stories. Because of Ginn, many of my stories receive an increased amount of clicks and views from all over the world. I don’t think Ginn gets nearly the amount of recognition he deserves.
Huang’s relationship with me dates back to several months before my first AAJA convention. Until now, Huang and I maintain one of the best relationships I have with AAJA. Most recently, as I have begun my internship at the Sun-Times, Huang was promoted to become a lead editor for ESPN’s production in China. Huang, Chow and Chen have racked up many air flight miles throughout the past month covering the NBA playoffs. Despite his busy schedule, Huang has been able to still give me helpful tips and pointers during my internship. Huang’s well-developed career began in Chicago where he still has many connections within the city’s media outlets.
Justin Seiter has also been one of the most helpful individuals at AAJA. Seiter is always keeping me in the loop about AAJA scholarships, grant opportunities and whereabouts.
Being awarded the Don Yee Scholarship couldn’t have come at a better time. This summer, I am working as an unpaid sports intern at the Sun-Times.
Before the summer began, I had a competing internship offer, which was a full-time paid position, though the position was in page design and not sports. I chose to follow my heart and stick with my passion for sports. The experience has been invaluable and humbling but also a bit of a financial burden.
I am incredibly thankful for another opportunity to attend AAJA this August in Las Vegas, where I hope to build new networks and continue to develop the strong relationships I already have within AAJA.
In addition to working at the Sun-Times, I also serve as sports editor for The Vidette, ISU’s student-run newspaper. My involvement with The Vidette, Sun-Times and AAJA has all helped me become who I am today. My educational and professional pursuits would not be possible without generous support from individuals like Don Yee and the AAJA Sports Task Force.
As I enter my senior year, it is exciting knowing I’ll be able to attend another AAJA convention the week before school begins. I look to make the most of every opportunity and am proud to be a member of the AAJA Sports Task Force.
Sports Task Force chair Carolyn Hong of ESPN noted that Tolentino was among an “impressive pool of applicants.”
“The Sports Task Force is very pleased to offer Josh this opportunity,” Hong said. His drive and passion for sports journalism made him stand out.
“Thanks to Don Yee’s generosity, the STF is able to offer Josh this fantastic experience. I hope more students take advantage of the programs and networking that AAJA and the STF can offer to help them build a career in journalism.”
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.