By Kirk Hemans
Senior track and field athlete Ileana Tejada is someone who has
undergone many changes in her life, in both athletics and
The Ontario native was originally too out of shape to compete on
her middle school soccer team and that is what led her to take up
track and field.
“I went to go do track and, of course I wasn’t going to run, so
they had me throw,” Tejada said.
In high school, Tejada won two championships in the shot put,
and in 2008, she set the Cal Poly Pomona record for the hammer
throw with a mark of 163-10.
Last year, she not only broke her own school record, throwing
168-3, but was also named the CCAA 2010 Conference Champion for the
“She definitely has done some great things in her time here as a
Bronco,” said track and field and cross country head coach Troy
Senior track and field athlete Mariano Baez said Tejada is a
very important part of the team.
“She’s the backbone of the women’s track and field team,” Baez
said. “[She is] really committed, disciplined and ready to
Former track and field student-athlete and Cal Poly Pomona
alumna Megan Emami said Tejada is always there for her
“Whenever you need someone to talk to or just someone to keep on
motivating you, she’s always there,” Emami said.
But there is more to Tejada than track and field and being a
great teammate and motivator. She’s also a 3.1 GPA student who
switched her major from Architecture to both Fine Arts and
Kinesiology because, “it was more [her].”
“[Architecture] was always really cool and it was something my
mom always wanted me to do,” Tejada said. “I heard it makes good
money and stuff but once I started thinking about it, it was just
Instead, Tejada said she wants to use her fine arts and
kinesiology knowledge to address the obesity problem facing today’s
society and promote how important being active is to everyday
“I saw somewhere that our kids today or the kids growing up
today are expected to live shorter lives than their parents for the
first time in history and that’s just like insane,” Tejada said.
“Art is just another way of getting the word out.”
Her plans include getting her teaching credentials so she can
become a physical education teacher, but teaching would only be
“It goes back to that art thing,” Tejada said. “Being a
physical education teacher, I’m going to reach out to maybe a
couple kids here and there [and those] that want to listen.”
Tejada said the Fine Arts approach would reach a broader
audience, showing them the bigger picture when it comes to making
She said growing up on fast food and junk food puts people in a
situation where they are going to be diabetic and where they are
going to die from it. Tejada said it was her coaches who helped
her change and that she wants to help others change.
“That’s why I want to be a physical education teacher,” Tejada
said. “That’s what saved me.
“If it weren’t for my high school coaches, I really don’t think
I’d be in the position that I’m in now.”
Tejada said she realizes the path she is on is not going to be
an “easy” one.
“I know everything is not going to change,” Tejada said. “But
if I help one person, I think I’d be able to call myself a really
successful person in life.”
Ana Brenda Ibarra / The Poly Post
Teaching is in Tejada’s future
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