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Incoming journalism major leads a sporting and academic life

Cronkite student likes ASU's mix of specialized curriculum, leadership skills and networking opportunities

Student in glasses
August 13, 2021

Editor's note: ASU News is highlighting some of its impressive incoming students for fall 2021.

Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication has produced a legion of great sports journalists and broadcasters over the decades — Al Michaels, Mike Arnold, Matt Barrie, Chip Dean and Mike Pomeranz immediately come to mind.

Noah Furtado, incoming first-year student from Kaneohe, Hawaii, hopes to add another name to the ranks one day: his.

Furtado has his eye on becoming either an op-ed writer for a major publication or website, or a play-by-play announcer for a network. Regardless of what he chooses, he knows his skills will be amplified while studying at the Cronkite School.

“I am stoked to really expand and grow into a multimedia skill set over the next four years,” Furtado said.

The Hawaiian native already has sports experience: He ran track and field, and his high school basketball team won back-to-back state championships. He’s also a recently converted Phoenix Suns fan.

“I was rooting for the Suns to win the NBA championship,” Furtado said. “Now that I’m going to ASU, I have a professional team to root for.”

Furtado, who graduated high school with a 3.9 GPA, plans to make the most of his education. In addition to his studies at the Cronkite School, he is a member of Barrett, The Honors College. He’s also been accepted as a member of ASU’s Next Generation Service Corps.

ASU News recently spoke with Furtado to discuss his life and studies on the mainland.

Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Question: Why did you choose ASU?

Answer: I chose ASU for a multitude of reasons. I was first formally introduced to the university in a meeting with Brad Baertsch (from ASU Admissions Services), who really opened my eyes to the many possible opportunities available to me at ASU. Going into it, I was already familiar with the university’s prominent sports journalism program offered at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Our discussions merely reinforced the program’s prominence. This component of the university added a certain uniqueness to it, at least from my perspective; it would be the only school out of the nine which I applied to that offered curriculum specialized to the sports media industry.

Little did I know this was just the surface of what I’d discover at ASU. As our talk progressed, we eventually got to the Next Generation Service Corps, ASU’s cross-sector leadership program. Not only would it provide me with an avenue to acquire leadership skills by broadening my knowledge of the private, public and nonprofit sectors, but it would also provide my family and I with much needed financial assistance by way of the Public Service Academy Commitment Award. Of course I still needed to apply, but this meeting set the tone for my journey in getting to know the university. ... I suppose it was a mix between the specialized curriculum, the vast outlets for professional networking — i.e., internships — and the affordability that ultimately brought me to choose Arizona State University.

Q: What is your major, and why did you choose it?

A: I will be majoring in sports journalism. This was not a difficult decision to make, as it was one that I made many years ago. I discovered my passion for sports journalism as a seventh grader. Up to that point, I had grown up in a sporty household and it was only right that I’d come to adopt an intense preference for the thrill of competition. That part of the equation was never in question.

It was my passion for writing that gradually developed over time. Throughout middle school, I began to recognize the natural feel I possessed for words. ... It was only a matter of time before I came across the perfect profession for me. Who knew that I could get paid to watch sports all day? I understand that’s not exactly it, but that’s what I was thinking at the time. In the present, I most favor column writing and play-by-play work.

Q: What are you most excited to experience your first semester?

A: This is a tough question. There’s so much to be excited about. If I had to pinpoint something, I’d probably say I’m most excited to meet new people. So generic … I know. But, it’s valid. Amongst all of the more serious avenues available to me in Phoenix, it will be difficult to shape truly enjoyable experiences without some semblance of a growing support system. My family will always be with me no matter where I am through the love, lessons and foundation they’ve provided me with, but I still recognize the need to open myself up to starting and gradually building close, meaningful friendships at Arizona State if I hope to truly create a home away from home.

Q: What do you like to brag about to friends about ASU?

A: I guess I’ve bragged about the multiple campuses and varied atmospheres that are at my disposal at ASU. Most of my friends are either attending schools with a really large or small student population. On the Downtown Phoenix campus, I’ll be primarily surrounded with a relatively small population of students at, or around, the 11,000 mark, with the option of periodically spending time on the vastly populated Tempe campus; in a sense, this reality gives me the best of both worlds. 

Q: What talents and skills are you bringing to the ASU community?

A: Well, you’ve already heard about what I consider my biggest strength: writing. But I suppose I could expand on that broad strength with other micro-talents that really play into my writing. Under any setting, I bring a relentless curiosity. With an open mind, I’m always probing with more and more questions until I can truly grasp the nuances of a given concept, position or situation. ... In all, I believe I bring the tools necessary — curiosity, openness, critical thinking — to effectively work under independent or group settings.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish during your college years?

A: I’m not too concerned with identifying traditional accomplishments and accolades that I would like to achieve at ASU. Rather, my resolve up at ASU will remain the same as it’s always been. I will work day-by-day to push myself closer to becoming the best version of myself in every possible aspect of my life. And that’s it.

I’ll give an example to clarify the distinction between these two approaches. Within the classroom, I’m not working for good grades and a high GPA. Instead, my focus is geared towards sponging all of the new skills, ideas and concepts that are thrown my way in an effort to expand the capacities of my mind. While the first approach is certainly valid, I find the second approach to be better equipped for sustaining long-term success. In essence, the second approach naturally achieves the goals of the first approach, though the first approach doesn’t necessarily achieve the goals of the second approach.

Q: What’s one interesting fact about yourself that only your friends know?

A: To study, I often tend to walk around while talking through the information that I want to process. Staying physically active while verbalizing information has been proven to expedite and strengthen memory processes. Despite this rationale, many people that happen to see me carrying out this study method tend to think I look like a crazy person; even my friends, who do know this about me, can’t help but validate this observation as reasonable.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem in our world, what would you choose?

A: Broadly speaking, I’d want to utilize the $40 million to initiate a campaign meant to better prevent against the onset of technology addiction for all people, especially young people. The country’s youth, in particular, is obsessed with social media applications such as Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Snapchat. As a result, “there has been a gigantic increase in depression and anxiety for American teenagers” (according to Jonathan Haidt, in "The Social Dilemma").

I’m not saying the solution would be to remove the existence of social media, but, at the very least, we should be more willing to lay down parameters under which we engage with technology. Social media was meant as a tool for us to control, but we’ve let social media dominate and dictate the shape of our lives instead. It has the influence to empower and uplift in many different ways, but it most certainly has the power to overwhelm and destroy just as easily.

Top photo: Noah Furtado in his home state of Hawaii. Photo courtesy of Courtney Reid Photography

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