A Cal Poly alumna reflects on her time after completing her own amazing journey.
Kelsey Gerckens, a 2010 journalism alumna, has been competing in the 27th season of “The Amazing Race” with her boyfriend and co-worker, Joey Buttitta.
The show features 11 teams of two who race around the world for the chance to win a $1 million grand prize.
Gerckens and Buttitta — “The Reporters” as dubbed by the show — work for KEYT-TV, a news station covering Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. Gerckens is a news reporter and anchor, and Buttitta is a morning news anchor.
As of Nov. 6, “The Reporters” were second place, with five legs of the competition to go that could take the couple to the Netherlands, Poland, India and China.
Gerckens was recently able to talk about her travels and the competition thus far.
The following is a Q&A with Gerckens, which has been edited for space and clarity.
MN: What motivated you to try out for the show?
KG: I had always been a really big fan of the show — I grew up thinking “Wow, I’d love to do that show.”
Then my boyfriend and I were talking about it and we decided to put in an application, and we didn’t think anything would come from it. But a year later here we are, actually on the show.
MN: Have you been able to incorporate anything from your time at Cal Poly into “The Amazing Race?”
KG: Well, I studied abroad when I was at Cal Poly. And actually, when I was choosing what college to go to, I was looking for a study abroad program, and Cal Poly had its own study abroad program. So they actually have Cal Poly professors going and teaching abroad.
I went to Thailand with the Cal Poly Thailand study abroad program my freshman year. That was definitely an incredible experience … Traveling on my own and getting directions and going in and out of airports — it definitely helped me prepare.
MN: How do you think you two have done as a team?
KG: I think we did great as team, obviously I can only talk about what’s been aired so far on the show, but what we can say is that we really felt comfortable with each other, and we work really well together. And we have a working relationship, so I think that helped us.
MN: If you could change one thing you two did as a team, what would it be?
KG: I think just maybe to take in the sights a little bit more. We’re in a race in a competition, so we didn’t really have time to … I wish we could have enjoyed it a little bit more. We were in Paris and we didn’t even see the Eiffel Tower when we were literally right next to it. So I think just taking a breath and enjoying it more.
MN: Has the show impacted your relationship with Joey?
KG: It has. I think if anything we’re closer because of it. Being able to travel and see places together definitely brought us closer together.
MN: Where were your favorite and least favorite places that you’ve been?
So far, my favorite leg was definitely the leg in Zimbabwe, in Africa. Being able to dive with crocodiles and see lions was really exciting. Just, being so close to the wildlife — we were literally crossing the street and there were baboons right there … Being that close to the wildlife was really exciting.
I don’t think I have one (place) that I disliked. I’ve really loved every minute of it.
MN: You’re both anchors for KEYT-TV, so you’ve been in front of a camera before — did it feel different being in front of “The Amazing Race” cameras?
KG: Joey and I both worked for KEYT for quite a few years, so we were definitely comfortable in front of a camera. So I think that helped us during the first couple of legs, because we weren’t worried about the camera. But once you’re running the race you kind of forget it’s there, which actually made it harder for us, I think. Because we’re so used to facing the camera directly and we couldn’t really do that.
MN: You mentioned in your “Amazing Race” bio that Paris was one of your major hopeful destinations. Could you explain more about why you wanted to see Paris?
KG: Well, I mean, I’m doing it with my boyfriend, and Paris is the city of love. So there was that. But I was able to travel a lot growing up, and I had never been to Paris.
It was everything I thought it would be. And now we’ll have to go back and actually enjoy it, because we were literally in and out of there in a few hours.
“The Amazing Race” airs Fridays at 8 p.m., with full episodes available for free on CBS’ website.