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San Diego State Student Is Olympics-Bound

Aired 7/16/12 on KPBS News.

San Diego State graduate students Keshia Baker is on her way to London to compete in the 2012 Summer Olymics.

Keshia Baker, 24, an SDSU graduate student who's headed to the Olympics.
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Above: Keshia Baker, 24, an SDSU graduate student who's headed to the Olympics.

With the summer Olympics less than two weeks away, athletes from all over the world are on their way to London – including one San Diego State graduate student.

Even during a layover in San Francisco, waiting to board her flight to London to be part of the U.S. 4x400-meter relay team, Keshia Baker, 24, said she couldn't believe it was happening. In high school Baker played basketball. She only started to focus on track at the University of Oregon in Eugene and she loved it.

“It just depends on me," she said during a phone conversation. "I put in the work and I get the output. I don’t have to rely on teammates or other people slacking off and not doing what they need to do. It’s totally dependent on me.”

But Baker, who grew up in Fairfield, Calif., was quick to say she has gotten a lot of support from teachers, classmates, friends and family. Even so, she had to get creative to juggle training in Los Angeles with commuting to classes at San Diego State several days a week.

“The teachers allowed me to record the lectures so I would always listen to the lectures while I was driving, because I knew with my practice it would be hard to know there was an exam and sit down and study,” she said.

On nights when the drive home was just too long after class got out at 9:40 p.m., Baker stayed in Oceanside with parents of a college friend. Toward the end of the semester, when she was more exhausted and worried about falling asleep at the wheel, her dad came down and would travel to class with her so he could drive her home.

When Baker gets back from London, she’ll still be a student-athlete, a dual identity she says she’s never struggled to balance.

“I tell people waking up early in the morning, starting practice is like my dose of vitamins everyday to get me through the rest of the evenings not feeling exhausted, always energized, mind always working,” she said.

Baker said being a graduate student, focused of the first time only on exactly what she's interested in academically, makes the balance even easier to strike. She plans to become a hospital administrator when she completes her joint masters in public health and social work.

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