Honored Graduating Student: Christina Blackmon (ExSc)
Christina Blackmon’s (‘21) motto has always been “passion for progress,” even when it hasn’t been easy. “If I could tell my freshman self one thing, it would be that it’s worth the effort,” she says with a smile. As a member of the BYU track team and an honored exercise science student in the College of Life Sciences, it would be easy to overlook the journey that brought Blackmon to where she is today.
Blackmon started running in fourth grade, but when she enrolled at BYU Idaho, where she earned her associate’s degree, they didn’t have a track team. She struggled with losing her identity as an athlete, but she was determined to compete again when she transferred to BYU.
One of the most difficult things for an athlete to hear is “No,” but Blackmon wouldn’t let this opportunity slip away. As a walk-on who hadn’t competed in two years, the coaches had their doubts about Blackmon’s abilities. The discouraging “No” became a hopeful “Maybe” when the coaches negotiated a deal with her. If Blackmon could compete at two home meets and score well, she would have a coveted spot on the team. Blackmon trained diligently, and when she ran, her scores were good enough to stay on the team. “It was hard being told no [at first], but it was worth it because now here we are, living the dream,” she says.
Her time at BYU hasn’t always been easy, but according to Blackmon, “God made everything work out.” When she drove to Utah to attend her first semester in Provo, she didn’t even have an apartment. She also struggled with the cost of tuition. Despite these trials, Blackmon takes pride in the hard work that qualified her for academic scholarships and extended jobs to pay for her education. “God can do anything, and I just have to give it all to Him,” she says.
Blackmon had the opportunity to attend a department seminar discussing Dr. Ian Hunter’s research; afterward, she approached him, eager to get involved. Blackmon worked with Dr. Hunter researching runners’ abilities to take in oxygen based on their weekly training mileage. This research has the potential to help athletes such as herself understand the different adaptations that can come through running.
Blackmon also values the opportunity to work with cadavers and gain great mentors within her department. She has developed an immense appreciation for the human body: “One of God’s greatest creations and gifts to us is our body.” She is dedicated to studying exercise science because she believes that the more she learns about the human body, the more she can help others use their gift more fully.
Throughout her challenges and rewards, Blackmon remains optimistic. “There is always a reason to give your best,” she says. “If you don’t give your best, you’ll never know what you can do or the heights you can reach.”
After graduation, Blackmon has plans to continue her education by attending graduate school at BYU, pursuing a master’s in exercise science. “I wish I could say I’m going to miss the RB stairs, but I’ll still be dealing with those,” She laughs.