Not many Sonoma State University students get the opportunity to meet the STAR’s one and only managing editor, Kim Baptista. Even fewer will know the story that led up to her work at the college paper, which includes multiple majors and a triumph over breast cancer.
Starting off her young adult life, Baptista decided to become a registered dental assistant, with extended functions. She stuck with that occupation for almost 20 years.
Years later her life changed when she received the news that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Baptista knew she didn’t want cancer to be the reason she never accomplished and attained the life she wanted to live.
Danielle Meerkatz, a friend of Baptista’s who attended the same high school as her, shared some of their cherished memories. Facebook and mutual high school friends brought them together just a few years ago, and the rest is history.
“We went to the Kenny Chesney show at Levi’s Stadium and were concerned about their no-purse/clear bag policy,” Meerkatz said. “Kim made her own “fashionable” purse by attaching a yarn strap tied to a zip lock bag. She’s resourceful.”
Baptista and Meerkatz share common interests besides country music, like college football and the Oakland A’s baseball team. Meerkatz said Kim is a trustworthy and supportive friend who is always there to listen through the challenges and triumphs.
“Kim is instinctively protective and has been fierce and steadfast in the adversity I’ve faced,” Meerkatz said. “Kim is dedicated to her goals in education, work experience, being a mom and being a wonderful person. I am happy to sing her praises and proud to be her friend.”
In 2007 after she had her daughter, Olivia, Baptista made the decision to return to school. Starting off only taking classes part-time, she wanted a career in either nursing or radiology technology, so science was her go-to major.
“I switched it to [radiology technology] after my own breast cancer diagnosis in 2011, realizing what a valuable and lifesaving job it is,” Baptista said.
Baptista continued to go to school while she underwent radiation and a lumpectomy. She said she was determined to pursue her degree no matter what obstacles got in her way. She continued on her journey and applied three times for a spot in the Rad Tech program offered at Santa Rosa Junior College. After no luck and no longer having eligibility for the program, she switched her major to communications.
Baptista said she always had an interest in things like event planning, marketing and advertising, so communications was her next go-to. In fall 2015 she transferred to Sonoma State. Once there, she dove right in and joined the STAR staff.
“My time at the STAR has been nothing short of a great experience,” Baptista said. “I have been privileged to work and collaborate with some amazingly talented people.”
Baptista said she has been taught discipline from a professional standpoint, and has been instilled with confidence on how to effectively work in a collaborative environment that presents stressful conditions.
Baptista said the STAR also taught her to get out of her comfort zone and to take risks. It helped her to form friendships that have shaped her time at Sonoma State and her future. She said she will be forever grateful for the STAR’s instructor, Paul Gullixson, for talking her into joining the paper.
“I have known Kim since she was a student of mine in Media Ethics and Law and I suggested that she come and join the STAR staff. She had a clear interest in current events and already was a regular consumer of news, which made her a tremendous asset for the newspaper from the outset,” Gullixson said.
Gullixson stressed that Baptista’s writing and editing skills will make her a indispensable asset to anyone who hires her.
“Kim has a keen eye for detail and a passion for accuracy that combine to make her a very effective editor. On top of that, her organizational and management skills kept me and our newspaper on track – and for that I will always be grateful,” Gullixson said.
Baptista considers her decision to become a part of the STAR one the best of her college career.
As far as her future goes, Kim said she doesn’t know what lies ahead. She has been cancer-free for six years, but she still lives in the moment since tomorrow isn’t guaranteed.
“The road to get here to complete my degree was long and challenging, but so worth it,” Baptista said. “I hope to find a job doing something in marketing or public relations-related, where I can continue to collaborate and be creative.”