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Moody College alumna competes on globetrotting “The Amazing Race”

Moody College alumna competes on globetrotting 'The Amazing Race'

Moody College alumna competes on globetrotting 'The Amazing Race'

Learn how her communication and leadership degree helped

Karishma Cordero is a daredevil. The communication and leadership grad is a certified sky diver and scuba diver. By the time she was 21, she has backpacked across five continents.

So when her cousin Kishori Turner was looking for a partner to apply to CBS’s “The Amazing Race,” she was an obvious choice. And Cordero’s sense of adventure made it a no-brainer to sign up.

In 2022, they sent an application to the network. That summer, when Cordero was entering her senior year at Moody College of Communication, she found out they’d be on the show.

“I grew up watching seasons here and there, but I was never the insane superfan,” she said. “Then I dove into it, and I thought, ‘This show is amazing.’ I love to travel and getting to do that for a show and getting to do a competition with one of my best friends, this is the craziest opportunity.”

In “The Amazing Race,” which has aired since 2001, teams of two embark on a race around the world. At every destination, each team must compete in a series of challenges, some mental and some physical. When the tasks are completed, they learn their next location. Teams who are the farthest behind are gradually eliminated as the contest progresses. The first team to reach the final destination wins a $1 million prize.

Season 36 premiered March 13 with 13 teams racing across the Americas. Cordero can’t say what happens because she signed a nondisclosure agreement, but after four episodes she and Turner are still on the show, despite some challenges in the premiere misreading a clue and missing an important route marker.

 “Sometimes you forget to take a step back and reread the clue or you miss a tiny detail, and it might make or break you,” Cordero said about the mishap. “The stress and competitiveness really does a number on you.”

"The Amazing Race" season 36 contestants. Photo courtesy of CBS

"The Amazing Race" season 36 contestants. Photo courtesy of CBS

Cordero knew after bingeing episodes to prepare for the show that it’d be a grueling competition. She’d be running with a backpack the entire month of filming, so she spent the summer before her senior year at yoga classes, running classes and rowing classes. She bought a pack of flags from different countries from Amazon and stuck them all over her walls — a lot of the clues in “The Amazing Race” involve guessing countries from their flags. 

Perhaps most difficult, though, was learning to drive a stick shift. It’s a requirement for the show, and Cordero said she was surprised how few people knew how to do it and could help teach her. She sought out a lot of tutors before finding a friend of a friend who took her to parking lots to practice.

While she left for filming in tip-top shape, Cordero said she could have never imagined the mental stress.

“I'm not a very anxious person. It takes a lot to really get me stressed,” she said. “But the unknowns of the race are just so intense, and when you are competing, you have no idea where you're going. You have no idea if you're going to make it. You don't know what's coming. You’re exhausted, and then you have to go back and do your interviews for the episode.” 

Cordero said her communication and leadership degree helped her on the show. In the major, students build skills in communication, collaboration and understanding social challenges.

“It’s a lot of working with teams and building alliances, and I learned so many different skills in my degree that I was able to bring into play,” she said. “It’s a relationship show more than a travel show because you're working through all these different obstacles and trying to mediate different communication styles.”

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When Cordero got back from filming, she said she was physically exhausted and could hardly eat from all the stress. Imagine being on the go and on a timer for a full month. It’s draining.

She finished her senior year the semester after filming, graduating in May 2023. While the show filmed in 2022, it is just now airing, having been delayed because of the writers strike.

Today, Cordero works as a data analyst for Procter & Gamble, a job she loves. She said she and her cousin became extremely close over filming. Now, she calls her “best friend”  seven times a day, more than her boyfriend. 

“You really, truly get close with your partner because they're your person the entire time,” she said.  “You don't have anyone else.”

She said the most rewarding part of participating was the relationships she built on the show, not just with her cousin but with fellow contestants.

“You are really unplugged. They take your phone. All you have is your backpack and your clothes,” Cordero said. “We spent a lot of time in hotel rooms, debriefing everything and talking about how we can build our relationship. Now, they're all practically my family. They’re going to be lifelong friends until the day I die, I know that for a fact. We had such a unique experience.”

Cordero has had a lot of friends and students reach out and want to talk with her about her experience on the show. Her advice to Moody students?

“If you have a dream, you should go after it because there's a reason why it's in your mind, it's in your heart, it's in your stomach. It’s talking to you for a reason,” she said. “When my cousin called me on the phone to apply for the show, I said, ‘We’re going to make this happen. We have to.’ And chasing that dream has opened so many other doors for me.”

Stay tuned for the rest of this season of “The Amazing Race,” which runs through May 15.

“If you have a dream, you should go after it because there's a reason why it's in your mind, it's in your heart, it's in your stomach. It’s talking to you for a reason."

Mary Huber
Communications Coordinator