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Alumni Profile: Karishma Cordero and The Amazing Race

When Karishma Cordero, a Spring 2022 student voyager, embarked on her voyage, she knew it would be a period of change and growth in her life: little did she know, though, her adventures in world travel and navigating new places were really only just beginning. While on the voyage, Karishma started the process that would lead to her becoming a cast member of the 36th season of CBS’s The Amazing Race, and, after several months of preparation, joined the cast for a global competition and adventure. Karishma, who was a junior at University of Texas at Austin when she went on Semester at Sea, joined her cousin, Kishori, as one of 13 pairs of adventurers tasked with racing around the world on a limited budget to reach a final destination first – and win a $1 million prize. She credits her time on Semester at Sea as perfect preparation for the show. “On Semester at Sea, you have to face a lot of constant change and uncertainty. The program taught me so much about figuring things out and about independence, and this helped so much on The Amazing Race,” Karishma said. 

Karishma with partner on The Amazing Race

Karishma actually received the call to potentially join the show from her cousin – and, right after, from The Amazing Race casting directors – while in-port with SAS in Portugal. Her cousin, Kishori, has always loved the show, and has been preliminarily accepted to join the race – so long as they could find the right partner. Karishma ended up being a perfect fit, and, after disembarking SAS, finishing up her degree at UT Austin, and a summer of preparation for the show, Karishma and Kishori started filming in October 2022. “When you start the show, even though you’ve prepared, and studied things like cultures, flags, vegetation, and geography, you still don’t know where you’re headed first or what will happen along the way,” Karishma said. “Semester at Sea was such good training.” 

Very much like her time on The Amazing Race, Karishma faced many unknowns as a SAS voyager: she’d heard about the SAS program on social media and through sorority sisters, but she embarked knowing no one on her voyage. Like so many of us do, Karishma disembarked several months later with lasting friendships, countless memories, an increased desire for global travel, and a new skill set of being able to “figure things out” when facing unknown circumstances. Along the way on the show, she was asked – with her partner and alongside her castmates – to navigate through complex roadblocks, memorize information, cook dishes in foreign countries, and even build a skateboard, among other challenges set by the show. Throughout the season, the pairs traversed eight countries and made their way (with some eliminations along the process) through Mexico, Columbia, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Barbados, and the Dominican Republic, with an endpoint in Philadelphia. 

Karishma on SAS voyage

On May 15, the season aired its finale. Though Karishma and Kishori were eliminated 5th in the race while in Santiago, Chile, she shared that she would not change the experience for the world. Since The Amazing Race, Karishma has continued to travel abroad, with trips made or planned for Asia, Capetown, and Dubai, among other places. She works for Proctor and Gamble as a Data Analyst and keeps a home base in Chicago. Karishma reflected on both her Amazing Race experience and on SAS, and shared, “It was all just so fun. The combination of both traveling and building relationships made The Amazing Race – just like Semester at Sea – such a thrill.”

Fun fact: Believe it or not (or perhaps very believable!) Karishma is not the first SAS alumni featured on The Amazing Race. In season 9, past SAS voyagers BJ Averell & Tyler MacNiven paired up for the mission: and, amazingly, they won the season!

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