Syracuse University Magazine


Miya Shay '95

A Storyteller at Heart

When Miya Shay’s parents came to the United States from China to attend graduate school in Oklahoma, her path to Syracuse University became apparent in short order. Shay was so eager to become a storyteller and join the media ranks that she skipped two grades during high school and arrived on campus as a first-year student at age 16. The opportunity to study at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and live on the East Coast was a strong lure. “I never grew up or went to school in a community that was so diverse,” says Shay, a reporter for KTRK-TV, the ABC affiliate in Houston. “I was meeting people and making friends from all over the country.”

After graduation, Shay and two classmates, Scott Withers ’95 and Derek Slap ’95, made the trek to Atlanta to work for CNN. Shay, who earned a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism with a minor in Asian history, worked at Headline News as a video journalist and freelanced for “In 1995, very few places had web sites,” she says. “We were just doing web stuff from the very bottom up at the beginning.” 

Shay’s first on-air position took her to Huntsville, Alabama. Jobs in Kansas and Michigan followed before she joined KTRK in 2002. In Houston, city government is her main focus, but the broad scope of coverage that comes with being in the country’s fourth most populous city has allowed Shay many adventurous assignments, including three trips to China. For two of those trips, she accompanied the NBA’s Houston Rockets for preseason games when Chinese superstar Yao Ming played for them. “It’s interesting how NBA teams, especially with Yao Ming in China, are treated,” she says. “At airports, workers come in and work an extra shift, just so they can see the players and take pictures.”

Shay has seen her share of domestic travel, too. She covered John McCain’s presidential campaign in 2008. When former President Gerald Ford died in 2006, Shay journeyed to his childhood home of Grand Rapids, Michigan, providing coverage from a city where she’d worked for three years as a TV reporter.

While Houston provides Shay with the opportunity to report on all sorts of stories, its location also allows her to enjoy one of her loves, scuba diving—with the undersea wonders of Mexico and the Caribbean only a short plane ride away. About six years ago on a trip to the Dominican Republic, Shay took the plunge into scuba diving. “We had a week,” she says. “I took lessons at the resort, and by the end, I was a certified scuba diver.”

That sense of adventure and curiosity has served Shay well throughout her career. She also credits her Newhouse education as crucial in her development as a broadcast journalist. “It offered not just the basic skills, but such a diverse range of classes and professors,” she says. “It still puts a smile on my face to see Professor [Robert] Thompson be quoted—talking about media.”

Being part of the media is a deeply rooted desire that grabbed hold of Shay quickly—and remains strong nearly two decades after it first took hold. “If you are, in your heart, a storyteller, you want to be where the story is, wherever that may be,” she says. “My desire is to make sure I am doing that.”  

—Brian Hudgins