By Alex Alford
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Balancing school, impending graduation and a sport can be overwhelming for most college students, throw in an internship and it is a recipe for disaster.
However, senior track and field captain, Justine Charbonnet balances all three, as well as involvement in her church, with an enthusiasm and efficiency that most athletes only dream of achieving.
Charbonnet began her track career after Hurricane Katrina forced her family to move from New Orleans, La., to The Woodlands, Texas. She believes everything happens for a reason and her move was no exception.
“I know I came to Baylor for a reason,” Charbonnet said. “After Hurricane Katrina, when we moved to Texas is when I started track. I had never done track before then. That was kind of cool how it all worked out, because the high school I went to, our regionals were at Baylor and that’s when the coaches saw me, after that everything kind of fell into place.”
Charbonnet has found time to balance athletic career at Baylor and an internship with Sic’ em Sports Productions. As an intern, she has been able to film and help make video promotions for Baylor Athletics.
“Most interns just film, but I was with them all summer so I was able to do three or four of my own videos,” Charbonnet said.
Charbonnet’s organization and work ethic enabled her to stay on top of her internship throughout track season.
“This last semester, because I had worked as the only intern all summer, when track started I was fortunate enough to make some of my own videos on my own time,” Charbonnet said.
When it comes to balance, Charbonnet’s coach, Todd Harbour, also believes she has set a wonderful example for her teammates.
“Justine has done a great job,” Harbour said. “She has a very fiery personality, a very competitive heart and is just a super young lady. She has done a great job and has never had any difficulties keeping work and track in balance. She is a great leader; we are going to miss her.”
It is because of the qualities that Harbour describes that Charbonnet has been voted a team captain for both her junior and senior years.
“It has really made me hold myself accountable and take the focus off myself and put it on the team,” Charbonnet said of being a captain. “Everything I do now, I try to think of ways to benefit the people around me instead of focus on myself. I can work on encouraging everyone else around me and really focus on them.”
However, leadership doesn’t come without moments of difficulty.
“Whenever my season is not going the way I want to, or I experience difficulty I have to figure out how to deal with that and carry myself without being a bad example for everyone else,” Charbonnet said. “That can get a little difficult when I am disappointed in my own performance, but I am also glad I have that so I can lift people up instead of sulking and dwelling on what I did or didn’t do that day. So they helped me out in the long run even if they didn’t realize it.”
Her leadership skills on the track have allowed Charbonnet to lead in her community as well. During Halloween season, she organized a Halloween carnival for the children in her church and surrounding community.
“I am in the choir and am a youth coordinator of my church,” Charbonnet said. “We put on a Halloween carnival. I just wanted to do something nice for the community. We put up booths and a bounce-house. We also had a DJ, a candy hunt and a haunted house.. All the athletes came out and dressed up in costumes. I had the time to do it and the resources, so I just thought I might as well.”
Charbonnet firmly believes every experience she has had while at Baylor is preparing her for her future.“What has been so special about my whole Baylor experience, and why I enjoy it so much, is because I can see everything it took to get me here and I can see now why I was supposed to be here,” Charbonnet said. “So when I look at life, I don’t worry about tomorrow, because He is going to set me up to wherever I need to be and whoever I need to impact,”