As an athlete – one who’s had success in high school, college and the pros – Nikki Noya ’00 loves competing and setting goals. So when the chance to become co-host of a nationally syndicated travel show suddenly popped up, Noya took the gamble.
Noya, a health and wellness expert with a degree in communications from the University of Rhode Island, had done fitness spots on various TV shows. But could she handle the duties of a host?
“I had no hosting experience,” says Noya, “but I am a hard worker and a quick study and I just had this feeling I could do it. I wanted to be the new host so I went after it.”
About 150 episodes in, Noya is comfortable and happy in the co-pilot seat on “The Jet Set.”
In its third season, “The Jet Set” airs in about 200 markets in the U.S. and Canada and is a two-time Telly Award winner. The weekly show, filmed on a set in Washington, D.C., with a jet motif, including a custom airplane-wing anchor desk, is a hybrid travel talk show that focuses on making travel accessible, fun and interesting.
“I absolutely love working on the show,” Noya says. “We have the best team. I cannot say enough how lucky I am to work with such amazing people.”
Noya joined industry veterans Gailen David and Bobby Laurie as co-host in episode 22 of the first season in 2016, replacing a host who had left earlier in the season. Noya had done fitness segments on the show, but the opportunity came out of the blue. “It actually was kind of serendipitously terrific,” she says. “I have to thank Gailen David, who originally asked me to do fitness segments.”
There was some turbulence at the start. So much was new – reading from a teleprompter, lighting, TV makeup. “The first few episodes were rough,” says Noya. “I felt like I was in TV boot camp. I really have to thank my team for letting me work through my mistakes.”
David says Noya’s positive outlook has been a great addition to the show. “Since Nikki joined ‘The Jet Set,’ her presence has transformed the show,” says David in an email. “I’ve learned so much from her just by witnessing how her enthusiastic approach to life manifests and touches everyone she meets and works with.”
Along with host duties, Noya continues to do “Fit to Fly” segments and muses that her personal wellness clients are now the millions who tune into the show. She also has taken on the lion’s share of in-studio interviews with guests.
Recently, she’s added the role of executive producer, helping shape and create future episodes. Noya and her family – 1-year-old Samantha and husband Ken Fields, a real estate developer, entrepreneur and environmentalist – have relocated from Coral Gables, Florida, to D.C., where the show is produced by En Pointe Productions.
But one of the big perks is the travel. Nearly every week, she’s visiting a new destination. She’s raced cars at Monticello Motor Club in New York; covered a cycling tour event through wine country in France; cruised the Baltic Sea visiting Germany, Estonia and Russia; done goat yoga (along with other farm animals, too) in Indiana; and in January will be headed to the rainforest in Belize. “My favorite thing is always the people,” she says, “getting to know their traditions and having someone who is so proud of something that they share it with you.”
Noya gained her wanderlust on family trips as a child growing up in California. After high school, she crossed the country to attend URI on a full volleyball scholarship. (A four-year starter known for her leadership and hard work, she helped the Rams to the Atlantic 10 championship and NCAA tournament in 1996.) After URI, she was off to Germany to pursue a pro career, and then back home to play on the pro beach volleyball circuit in the U.S. for five years.
“My parents were very adventurous,” says Noya. “Both of them really encouraged exploring and learning about different places. I was lucky growing up in that kind of environment.”
But the travel that comes with “The Jet Set” is just one of the reasons Noya seems to be in constant motion.
Noya and her husband have numerous philanthropic causes. She is vice president of Dress for Success Miami, which empowers women to achieve economic independence, and helped start the employment skills program Vets for Success. She is also chairwoman of the Noya/Fields Family Foundation, which supports environmental, educational and veterans causes.
Also, after her daughter was born, Noya began competing in pageants as a way to push herself outside her comfort zone, she says. She’s currently Mrs. Dupont Circle 2019 and will be competing for Mrs. D.C. America in April – after having been Mrs. Miami 2017/2018 and first runner-up for Mrs. Florida. Her goal is Mrs. America. “Why not,” she says.
Even at URI, Noya set the bar high for her future. In a communications class her senior year with Professor Agnes Doody, Noya gave a 20-minute speech on her career plans, envisioning a future “Noya Enterprises.” Doody, known affectionately as “Hurricane Agnes,” asked Noya to stay after class. “She looked me right in the eye and told me to be fearless, explore the world, listen to my intuition, move around obstacles and never stop learning,” says Noya. “She was confident in me at 21, and I will never forget her smiling at me saying, ‘I have high expectations for you.’
“Having her as a strong female role model at such a young age has made a huge impact on my professional career.”
Her communications degree, she says, has helped throughout that career. After volleyball, Noya used her knowledge of wellness, nutrition and fitness to build a 10-year career in the fitness industry. While working at Sports Club LA in New York, across from the “Today Show,” she got her first shot at doing fitness segments on TV – and a first step toward her current career.
“What’s great about having that degree is it doesn’t pigeon hole you into doing one thing,” she says. “Having a communications degree makes everything accessible. You can do PR, journalism, marketing … When I was 20 I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. But communications was broad enough to do the 15 careers and all the experiences I’ve had since I left school.”
Noya shares that knowledge as a member of the advisory board for the Harrington School of Communication and Media and in its mentoring program.
“That’s something that is very, very important to me,” says Noya. “I want to help women who are following in the footsteps I’ve walked. Now it’s my privilege to teach and inspire just like Dr. Doody did for me.”