by Pierce Greenberg
When sociology major Dominique Keel wakes up in the morning, she has one big choice to make: study early in the morning (6 a.m.) or late at night (7 p.m.). The rest of her day is spent juggling schoolwork and her other passion — track and field.
“The lessons I’ve learned in track have spilled over to academics. If you work hard, you’re going to get what you want. But if you slack off, you’re not,” Keel said. “If I study and do my homework and I’m invested in it, then I’m going to get the A. But if I slack off… I’m not going to get what I want.”
That hard work has paid off. Keel received this year’s Exceptional Senior Award from the sociology department, and helped both the 4 x 100 meter and 4 x 400 meter relay teams qualify for the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championship.
Her team placed 17th in the nation in the 4 x 100 meter relay and 21st in the 4 x 400 meter relay at championships in Eugene, Oregon.
The key to that success is balance.
“I actually have to utilize this plan or write down what I have to do and when,” Keel said. “The biggest thing I’ve learned about balance is just staying disciplined. In college, no one is going to walk you through it. It’s on your own. If you want it, you have to go get it.”
Keel’s love of people and understanding their actions led to her majoring in sociology, with an emphasis in social work. The Exceptional Senior Award is given to a rising senior who excels at courses within the sociology major.
““I thought about what do I really like to do. Where is my heart at? It’s with people and hearing people’s stories and why they are the way they are,” Keel said. “So, I was like, ‘OK, I can do sociology and social work and figure out why people feel this way.’”
Keel, originally from Beaverton, Oregon, hopes to carry that interest into graduate school in 2016. But first, she still has some goals she would like to achieve on the track.
This year, Keel and her teammates notched the second fastest time in WSU history in the 4 x 100 meter relay, completing it in 44.61 seconds. The time was seventh fastest in the West Regional and qualified them for the national championship.
Keel also helped the team qualify in the 4 x 400 meter relay, where they finished 12th in the West Regional to advance to nationals. Despite their recent success, Keel wants to finish her track career on a high note next season.
“We’re going to have a younger team next year, so [I’m thinking about] how I’m going to develop the girls that come in next year, so that when I come back in two years, it’s an exceptional program,” Keel said.
Photos courtesy of Washington State Athletics.