LaTashia Kerr: Planning for success
Track. Nursing School. Nursing School. Track. For UT junior sprinter LaTashia Kerr, these two things have made up her life on the Forty Acres. Balancing school work and athletics is the charge of any student-athlete, but few are as organized as the Houston native. Her day planner looks as if it has gone through the laundry, with tattered pages full of notes, some legible for what is left to do and some marked off for what has been done, but all focused on two things, track and nursing school.
Since Kerr was in third grade, she knew that being a nurse was what she wanted to do. At the time, her grandfather was coping with diabetes and a personal nurse was always present to help him with whatever he needed. Kerr witnessed how the nurse would ease her grandfather's pain and realized that she wanted to do the same for others.
"My grandfather's nurse Sharon used to help him so much," explained Kerr. "It was amazing what she would do for him and ever since then I knew nursing is what I wanted to do."
Fortunately for Kerr, her high school, Forest Brook, had a health professional's curriculum that would help students who were interested in those fields gain some experience. The course work was a general introduction to various fields in the health industry, giving each student a taste of what it would be like to work in the field.
"The program was great because we got exposed to a lot of different things," said Kerr. "We got to do rotations at a clinic near my school and it basically proved to me that it was what I wanted to do."
Kerr entered The University of Texas as a nursing major, but she knew it would take a lot of hard work and organization in order to get accepted into the nursing school. The openings in the nursing school are limited due to lab space and other various reasons, so Kerr needed to be on top of her academics, all while competing for one of the best track and field programs in the nation. That is when she knew her day planner would become her best friend.
In the meantime, Kerr came to Texas as a highly-decorated prep performer. She earned all-state honors three times while helping her team to three-straight district titles and a runner-up finish as a senior. Her collegiate career got off to a self-described slow start while she transitioned into life as a Division I student-athlete. But, she still managed to earn her first All-Big 12 honor by finishing eighth in the 400 meters indoors.
She showed steady improvement during her sophomore year, notching her first All-America honor as a member of the 4x400-meter relay team and racking up three more all-conference honors in the 200 and 400 meters outdoors and the 400 meters indoors. But, bigger things were yet to come.
While preparing for her junior year on the track, Kerr was organizing her application for entry into UT's nursing school. She had completed her pre-requisites and made the grades to qualify for entrance. The next step was to prepare a letter and an essay.
"I had worked really hard to get to that position," explained Kerr. "I let them know what I wanted to do in the future and I think the way I feel about nursing really helped me."
Kerr realized her dream when she received her acceptance letter into the nursing school. With one goal down, she turned to the track for the 2005 season.
During the indoor season, Kerr posted personal bests in the 60 meters and the 200 meters. She would go on to earn three more All-Big 12 honors and help the 4x400-meter relay team to a Big 12 championship. Now, she is preparing to compete in the 200 and 400 meters, while being a part of the 4x400-meter relay team at the Big 12 Outdoor Championships.
Kerr has her goals in both track and nursing written in her day planner. Earlier this spring, she was able to cross off the note about gaining entrance into nursing school. When she gets on the plane to leave Manhattan, Kan. after the Big 12 Championships, she expects to be crossing off some of her track goals as well.