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Webster University is full of students who work and go to school full-time. Sophomore long-distance runner Jane McKibben takes it to the next level. She works two jobs, goes to school full-time and competes on Webster’s track and field and cross-country teams. As if she wasn’t busy enough, McKibben recently joined the Army’s ROTC program.
“Some days I say, ‘Wow. How I am doing this?’” McKibben said. “But I am holding my own. I am going for it.”
McKibben’s busy schedule keeps her on the go seven days a week. She starts most days at 6 a.m. with physical training through the ROTC program. Then she attends classes at Webster, goes to track practice and finishes the day by working at either Sports Authority or the Tilted Kilt restaurant in Arnold. Additionally, she attends classes two days a week for ROTC in the afternoon. Her day usually ends around 11 p.m.
“Jane has a tremendous amount of energy and determination,” said track and field coach Dusty Lopez. “She really embodies the whole concept of where there’s a will, there’s a way. I have never seen a college student pull off what’s she’s doing.”
McKibben, an international relations major with minors in military science and biology, prefers to work on a team that’s going after a shared dream. She is working towards a career in the military.
“With the United States Army, I am here for a greater good, to do something bigger than trying to achieve the benefits for me, but instead for everyone else,” McKibben said.
McKibben said she admires the field training and lessons the staff members and cadets in the ROTC program have taught her. Through the ROTC program, she can finish out school and go into service as a 2nd Lieutenant Army officer.
Born in Rio de Janeiro, McKibben moved to the United States when she was one year old to live in Leavenworth, Kansas. At the age of four, her family moved to St. Louis and she has lived here ever since. She attended Lindbergh High School, which is when Lopez began recruiting her.
“Lindbergh sends kids to Webster every year, so I always keep an eye on their program,” Lopez said. “Jane’s senior year was my second year at Webster, and I recruited her throughout that year. She’s very positive, hardworking and she really cares about doing her best in all her endeavors.”
McKibben said she chose Webster because she loves the environment in and outside the classroom.
“The smaller class sizes are beneficial to my learning needs and the athletic program is beneficial to my competitive needs as an athlete,” McKibben said. “The international, friendly aspect is another plus in which I can meet and interact with other students and staff members from all over the world.”
Bianca McKibben, Jane McKibben’s mother, is her biggest admirer.
“She is amazing,” Bianca McKibben said. “I don’t say this because she is my daughter, but because she truly is. I am very proud of her for all the things she’s able to do.”
Jane McKibben is paying her way through school and acknowledges it hasn’t been easy. She is in the process of moving into a more affordable apartment, and she is working extra hours to help offset the move. The extra work she put in caused her to miss the first two track meets of the season.
“I am paying everything myself and it’s difficult,” Jane McKibben said. “My mom keeps telling me to stay positive. Sometimes I am basically just keeping afloat.”
Lopez worries that sometimes Jane McKibben has overextended herself, but he supports her drive to succeed.
“We talk a lot about stepping back when possible, taking small steps to get through tough stretches, and it seems to work out,” Lopez said.
Lopez said Jane McKibben is a key member of the team because of the example she sets.
“If someone can support herself, train in the military and still remain committed and upbeat about her role on the track team, that sends a very valuable message to the rest of the squad,” Lopez said.
Teammate Eroica Stackhouse, who often runs with Jane McKibben early in the morning or before class, said there is something special about her running partner.
“Jane is talkative; there’s never a dull moment during our run,” Stackhouse said. “She is very motivational and has something to say to inspire me so I push harder during our run.”
Although she missed the first two meets, Jane McKibben said she’ll be ready for April 1-2, when she and the rest of the Gorloks compete in the WashU Invitational. Jane McKibben said she will participate in either the 5K or 10K run.
“I am hoping to be making highlights for my track career this year,” Jane McKibben said, “especially during the Washington University meet.”