Abigail Norton is asking the right questions at the right time
By Sarah Ostler Hill
Abigail Norton’s parents have always instilled in her the value of asking the right questions at the right time. This lesson has served her well through high school academics and activities. This may be her first year at BYU, but with an eye to the future as a national newscaster, she speaks with a confidence beyond her years.
“Knowing what’s going on in the world and helping others is something I want to do,” Norton shares. “I’ve loved watching and reading the news since I was little.”
rom an early age, Norton’s parents required their children to ask for things on their own. Her mother, Marion Norton, remembers a two-year-old Abigail asking her for another drink on a flight.
“I told her she’d have to go ask,” Marion says. “Abby walked off to the curtained area and a little while later came back with her drink. She has never been afraid to talk to people.”
As she grew up, Norton and her siblings attended various social functions where they were expected to interact and converse with adults. Marion believes these early opportunities gave their children confidence and social skills essential to becoming successful adults.
Marion remembers when Norton, at age 12, spoke in front of the church congregation for the first time. After she concluded, a couple sitting in the pew in front of the Norton family turned around and told Marion her daughter should be on the news.
“We had just had a conversation about that possibility,” Marion says. “I realized she could combine her skill in writing with her great ability to speak. I thought being a newscaster would be a great option.”
In high school, Norton was involved with a number of clubs and programs. She worked on the school newspaper. She participated in mock trial for several years and was a member of the debate team, serving as president in her senior year. She was also a member of the National Honor Society, serving as president her senior year as well.
“The thing that makes her unique is that even as a senior in high school, Abby had a very clear sense of where she wanted to go and how she was going to get there,” remembers Shelly Karren, Norton’s advanced placement literature teacher who also served as advisor for the school’s NHS chapter. “Students like Abby make my job really wonderful.”
The summer between Norton’s junior and senior years, she participated in BYU’s Summer Scholars Broadcast Journalism Program. For a week, high school students worked with BYU communications professors to investigate and write news stories as well as produce a news broadcast using BYU’s state-of-the-art newsroom.
“I met a lot of incredible people, and BYU’s facility is impressive,” Norton shares. “The program cemented my determination to major in communications and attend BYU.”
Meeting Unexpected Mentors
n between academic and extracurricular activities, Norton spent time working in the Golden Spoon frozen yogurt shop her family owns in Draper. While working there, her friendly conversation with a repeat customer grew into a mentoring relationship.
Norton didn’t see it coming.
“One day he came in with an email he had printed off,” Norton remembers. “He had contacted Jane Clayson Johnson, a former national newscaster, to see if she would give me advice. I couldn’t believe it.”
That customer, Pimmie Lopez, attended BYU for his masters in business administration and since then has actively mentored students. He is quick to note that since his expertise is in healthcare administration, he usually helps students in business.
“I took an interest in Abby is because she is so extraordinary in all areas,” Lopez shares. “She’s very bright, but I see other qualities that make her stand out. She is hard working, has phenomenal people skills, and is very gracious.”
When he heard that Norton was pursuing a career in broadcast news, Lopez remembered meeting and speaking with Johnson at a conference. Johnson told Lopez to contact her if he ever needed anything with which she could help.
“I never thought I’d take her up on it,” Lopez laughs. “If I can help make introductions or endorsements for students who are standouts and maybe catch the eye of accomplished professionals, then I feel like I can make a difference in a small way.”
So Lopez approached Johnson, and she agreed to have him pass along her information. Norton followed through and contacted Johnson, learning about the hard work and skill that brought Johnson to the national networks.
Living Her Dream
orton’s unique upbringing, mentoring relationships, and natural gifts have enabled her to get where she is today, but she has faced the same demands as any other freshman.
“It’s been challenging, trying to balance my home life with my school life,” Norton says. “But in college you make your own schedule and the ability to create my own structure has given me a lot of freedom.”
While Norton’s accomplishments thus far are impressive, all who have associated with her point to her genuine kindness as one of her greatest assets.
“Abby is genuinely kind to everybody,” her mother says. “This makes her approachable, easy to talk to. It doesn’t matter where you are or what you look like, Abby is kind to everyone.”
Norton is not yet sure if, upon graduation, she will immediately enter the work force or pursue a graduate degree. Ultimately, however, her goal is to be a national newscaster.
“I want Abby to use the skills she has, her genuine kindness, to embrace the people she meets,” Marion hopes. “I want her to broaden her horizons by interacting with many people. She has such strong values and such a good sense of self. I know she’ll be an influence for good wherever she goes and in whatever she does.”
With a team of mentors—from parents to teachers, from customers to professors—and an enviable bank of skills, Norton is poised to make a name for herself in the years to come by asking the right people the right questions.