Women's Track and Field graduates four during fall ceremony
With a month remaining until the start of the 2008 Texas track and field season, the Longhorns harriers said goodbye to a quartet of teammates at the fall graduation ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 8.
Thrower Michelle Carter ended her athletics career during the spring of 2007 and her academic career this past weekend. The NCAA Champion shot putter graduated with her degree in youth and community studies. The seven-time All-American helped Texas win two NCAA team championships and three Big 12 Conference championships. The five-time league champion left her mark on the Forty Acres as the Texas school record holder in the indoor shot put and second-place marks in the outdoor shot put and discus.
"I'm very excited about graduating. I've been here four and a half years so it's about time," Carter laughed. "I can say I officially have my degree which is exciting. I remember when I first got here. It goes by so fast. You're constantly doing something. Now that it's the end you adjust back to life. It hasn't hit me that I'm not done with classes yet but it will come January."
Teammate LaTashia Kerr completed her nursing degree requirements last week. The six-time All-American sprinter won three NCAA relay titles during her four-year career (2003-06). In her final season, she earned an individual All-America honor with a seventh-place finish in the 400. She ran on seven top-10 relays and is eighth on Texas' all-time quarter-mile list.
"I'm actually at the point where I can't believe it is happening," said Kerr, surrounded by family and friends at a graduation reception hosted by the T-Association. "It will hit me when I don't have class anymore. I had a wonderful experience here and to finally be done with everything and see my dream accomplished makes me very happy.
"I start my first job at Brackenridge Hospital in the RN residency program," Kerr explained. "I'll do that for at least 18 weeks. I'm currently training for the Olympic Trials in June. Hopefully, keep your fingers crossed, I'll be on my way to Beijing. If I don't make it, I'll be moving to Cleveland to start planning my wedding (to former Texas men's basketball standout and current Cleveland Cavaliers' guard Daniel Gibson)."
Carter (shot put, discus) and Kerr (400) are training for the 2008 U.S. Track and Field Trials from June 26 to July 6 in Eugene, Ore.
Landra Stewardson, the 2007 ESPN The Magazine First-Team Academic All-America, finished student teaching during the fall of 2007 and walked in the graduation ceremony on Saturday. The six-time Academic All-Big 12 selection carried a 4.0 grade point average through three and a half years of college, completing her degree with only one 'B'.
During her senior year, Stewardson led the Longhorns cross country team, finishing as the top runner in four of six races. She transferred that success to the track as she finished as the 2007 Big 12 runner-up in the 10,000-meter run and moved into sixth all-time in the longest distance event. Stewardson will substitute teach during the spring semester before enrolling in graduate school.
"My mom always taught me whatever you do, do your best," said Stewardson. "I credit her and the coaching staff at Texas for everything. They are awesome. (Hall of Fame head coach) Bev (Kearney) and (assistant coach) Steve (Sisson) have always set high standards and, at first I felt I could never do that, but they set them up there and I tried and achieved. You may not reach the National Championship standard that they set but you do achieve a lot more than you thought possible.
"It's been a great journey," Stewardson continued. "I'm really excited to graduate and move on to the next thing whatever that may be."
Former cross country and track and field team member Kathleen Leonard graduated with a degree in advertising. Leonard competed in 12 meets from 2004-06. On the track, she carried a personal best time of 10:56.44 in the 3,000-meter.