Meet Our Students - Owen Salmon - Launching a Research Career
Major: Master of Science in Kinesiology
Are you a first-generation college student?
If so, please share with us what motivated you to pursue a college degree.
I am not a first-generation college student, but what initially motivated me to pursue a college degree was a career focused on health and medicine.
What attracted you to the UTEP Department of Kinesiology?
What ultimately brought me to UTEP was an interaction I previously had with my mentor, Dr. Cory Smith, at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln (UNL). I did not know too much about UTEP a few years ago, but once the opportunity arose to come to UTEP to further my education and become a research assistant, I looked more into the Kinesiology program. The facilities available, the professors within the program, and the curriculum outlined in the degree plan were what attracted me most about UTEP. The opportunity to learn more about different concentrations within the Kinesiology field, along with the emphasis on independent research, were important qualities that I believed would help me to be more competitive when looking ahead and applying for future job opportunities at the end of my schooling.
Why did you decide to continue your education past the undergraduate level and pursue a master’s degree in Kinesiology?
I decided to pursue a master’s degree in Kinesiology to open more doors for future career possibilities. The Kinesiology degree is comprised of several different concentrations and career outlets. By pursuing a degree in Kinesiology, I wanted to have an opportunity to explore more of my independent interests and get involved with research that I enjoy and find interesting. For me, obtaining my master’s degree is the first major step in diversifying my educational background and will be pivotal to my continued education and upcoming career.
How did you become involved in research?
My first involvement with research began in my later undergraduate years at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln (UNL). As a student, I sought out human performance research studies that offered opportunities to be a participant. As I participated more and more, I then began to develop a relationship with the students in the laboratory, which was a steppingstone to an opportunity to assist with data collection and volunteer more time to be an assistant within the laboratory. Volunteering my free time to participate in studies and visit the laboratory provided me with the foundation to formulate a research study and compile an undergraduate research poster that I presented at a research fair. That first positive experience volunteering in the laboratory opened my eyes to a completely new career field and opportunity to pursue research.
Tell us about your most memorable experience as a research assistant in the Human and Environmental Physiology Laboratory.
For me, it is impossible to narrow my most memorable experience to one exact moment. I would say that the most memorable experience was the opportunity to play a big role in the establishment of the Human and Environmental Physiology Laboratory. Throughout the course of time that I have been a student at UTEP, I have enjoyed being a part of the physical transformation of our laboratory. Watching the laboratory space transition, going from a gym to a fully functional environmental physiology laboratory outfitted with research capabilities that are rarely found throughout laboratories across the United States, was a neat process to be part of!
How has your graduate education in Kinesiology prepared you for your future career?
My graduate education in Kinesiology has prepared me for my future career by helping me to not only become well rounded within my education, but also enhancing my critical thinking skills. In graduate school, you are given the tools to get involved in several different projects and are exposed to several new perspectives. However, it is ultimately up to you how much you choose to get out of the program. By remaining active in coursework and independent research activities, it can provide you with opportunities to expand your research potential and personal connections beyond UTEP.
What would you tell a prospective student who is thinking about pursuing a graduate degree in Kinesiology?
Taking the next step into graduate school can be a big change. Make sure you are doing your homework, and I am not talking just about the rigor of academic work, but the independent homework about the institution, the degree and the classes available, and compare it to your future career aspirations to make sure it is a good fit. Reach out to professors within programs of your interest to try to get involved and seek opportunities to be involved in different laboratories to gain hands-on experience. By pursuing a graduate degree in Kinesiology, you can set yourself up for several different career paths that are available beyond the level of a bachelor’s degree. With a graduate degree, you become more competitive for job opportunities and a more competitive applicant if you plan to pursue a professional degree such as Physical Therapy, Physician Assistant, or a Doctor of Medicine.
For more information about the Master of Science in Kinesiology degree, please visit: https://www.utep.edu/chs/kinesiology/academic-programs/graduate/graduate-program.html
Photo courtesy of Owen Salmon