Campus & community, People, Profiles

First-year DeAndra McDaniel on joining track: ‘We’re going to shoot to the moon’

The 18-year-old, who competes in triple jump and long jump, says he chose Berkeley because he felt like it was the most well-rounded for academics and sports.

Portrait of DeAndra McDaniel

First-year student DeAndra McDaniel, 18, is from Selma, California. (UC Berkeley photo by Brittany Hosea-Small)

“I chose Berkeley because I felt like it was the most well-rounded for academics and sports. I’m on the track team — I do triple jump and long jump. I’ve been doing track since second grade. I started off just trying to impress my brother. I wanted to do everything that he did, but better.

I’m honestly beyond excited to just start practice. I think it’s going to be amazing. We’re stacked with amazing people, really intelligent people, all hard-working, all with a really positive attitude. I feel like all of us believe in each other, and we’re uplifting each other. So, we’re going to shoot to the moon, instead of the sky.

When I’m practicing or competing, it’s just a break from everything. I’m in the zone. Everything else just stops. It’s like tunnel vision — I love that about it. It’s something I’ve always been really passionate about, and I feel like I can use it to influence people in a positive way. That’s one of the main things I do through Instagram: I try to build my connections and inspire people. I feel like you can touch a lot of people with little interactions. A minute can change somebody’s whole life. That’s what I’m starting to realize, and that’s what I’m trying to do.

I plan on studying psychology and sociology. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been fascinated by the brain. I always say that somebody could be the smartest person in the world, but if they think they’re not intelligent, they’re not intelligent. Because they aren’t going to live up to their potential. The brain is really powerful.

I also want to study the patterns in someone’s brain who’s experiencing poverty. And I want to learn what I can do to rearrange that, to change that, in a positive way. Not scolding them for their situation, because I understand it, but uplifting them and helping them change their lives.”