Outstanding Islander Graduate Omar Arizpe ’23 Earns Kinesiology Degree

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Omar Arizpe ’23 was in eighth grade when he decided on his chosen career of physical therapy. Devoted to his pathway, he attended a health professions high school, and completed clinical rotations. But his time at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi allowed him to grow this goal with a newfound interest in biomechanics, which he nourished with original research in TAMU-CC’s biomechanics lab.

Now, the Honors Program student and McNair Scholar is set to graduate with his Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology and has also been selected as the Outstanding Islander Graduate for the College of Education and Human Development. He will cross the stage on May 20 during a record-breaking ceremony that includes 1,319 graduates, the most Islanders to ever graduate in a single semester in the history of the university. 

A native of Harlingen, Arizpe came to the university fascinated with rehabilitative sciences, a passion he developed shadowing a physical therapist for three months during his senior year at the Harlingen School of Health Professions. As a first-generation college student, Arizpe valued staying relatively close to family when he went to college. 

He was also looking for a school that was big enough to give him “the full college experience” while being small enough to allow him personal attention from his professors. He found just that at TAMU-CC.

“This university provided me with a fine median in not being too big or too small,” Arizpe said. “My best experience as an Islander has been being able to build relationships with my professors. Each professor in the Kinesiology department has played a role in my success.”

Arizpe immersed himself in his studies at the Island University, earning a spot on the Dean’s List each semester as he maintained a 3.9 GPA. He also earned numerous scholarships during his time on campus.

At the encouragement of his professors, he began to branch out into research. 

“I had always mainly focused on my classes and grades,” Arizpe said. “However, as the years went, I found that there was an immense value in getting to know the professors within your department. I believe this contributed to my development of professionalism and maturity as a student and lifelong learner.”

Arizpe was accepted into the McNair Scholars program in fall 2021 and began his journey into the field of research. Working with Dr. Frank Spaniol, Arizpe studied the relationship between army combat fitness test scores and body composition, ultimately presenting the research at the National Strength and Conditioning Association conference in New Orleans in July 2022.

The following fall, he began to work on another project with Dr. Bryon Applequist, TAMU-CC Assistant Professor of Kinesiology who specializes in biomechanics. With Applequist as mentor, Arizpe studied injuries of baseball players and how to prevent them. 

“Dr. Applequist provided me the opportunity to take the reins of his biomechanics lab in order to build skills that would be transferable to my future career,” Arizpe said. “Not only has Dr. Applequist been very knowledgeable when it comes to biomechanics, he has also been able to provide me with great life lessons to carry on. I will always appreciate his ability to recognize what I would be able to provide in his research. His belief in me has led me to greater places.”

Arizpe presented the research he conducted with Applequist at two conferences this year: the Texas American College of Sports Medicine and the South Central American Society of Biomechanics. 

“These opportunities have allowed me to network with other people with similar interests in my field,” Arizpe said.

Buoyed by the confidence of his professors, Arizpe applied — and was accepted into — three doctoral programs. 

“To this day, Omar remains one of the best overall students I have had the pleasure of having in class, period,” Applequist said. “He shows a natural ability to rationalize and problem solve on the fly during lectures and discussions and has taken a leadership role when necessary in group projects. Omar is well equipped to grow from challenges that he will face in physical therapy school.”

That’s exactly what is next for him. He chose to attend Ohio State University because of their athletic program and presence on the collegiate stage. When he starts this summer, he will be one step closer to the dream he has had since eighth grade, more confident and prepared because of his years at TAMU-CC. 

“It is a great honor to say that attending A&M-Corpus Christi has prepared me to be accepted into the Ohio State University to earn my Doctorate in Physical Therapy,” Arizpe said.