Intern Spotlight: Meet Michael

Michael came to UTSA from Saipan by way of the Navy. While stationed in Florida, he met his wife who is from South Texas. After his time in the Navy was complete, they chose San Antonio as their home. Michael is majoring in Health & Kinesiology. His dedication to his education and studies often brings him to campus on weekends with his young daughter in tow. She enjoys playing at the Sombrilla fountain – we may have a future Roadrunner in the making!

Like many students, he is hoping to spend more time on campus in the Spring 2022 semester. His time as a student and graduate research assistant has impacted him enough that he hopes to stay at UTSA – as a lecturer in the Kinesiology department. Michael was also one of many presenters at the Fall 2021 Roadrunner Experience Showcase, where he won 2nd place with his presentation “Virtual Reality and Postural Instability”. We talked to him about his experience as a research assistant and his participation in the Roadrunner Experience Showcase.


How did you obtain your internship and what did it entail?
I started by emailing the professors who were teaching my undergraduate kinesiology classes at the time and asked if they had any opportunities for me to get involved in their labs or research. I knew this would be difficult because the campus was still strictly online, but I had to try. I have been working as a graduate research assistant here at UTSA. For the last several months I assisted in participant recruitment, the implementation of the experiment for data collection, and the data processing for the study.

What was the most exciting aspect of your internship?
This research is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), which to me already sounds pretty exciting! However, the most exciting aspect would have to be the opportunity to develop my educational and career experience by learning from subject matter experts like Dr. Cordova and Dr. Quarles. I also worked alongside a PhD student from the Department of Computer Science who had a lot of knowledge to share and exposed me to subjects that a traditional kinesiology student would not be exposed to.

What was the most challenging aspect of your internship?
Participant recruitment was rather difficult at times. Trying to balance being a new dad with recruiting participants for our research study while completing the last of my undergraduate classes was challenging. I spent a lot of time on the phone trying to find people willing to participate in the study. I also had to keep my schedule flexible to accommodate as many participants as possible. This often entailed coming in on weekends.

What recommendations do you have for other students about doing an internship?
Be proactive. Don’t be afraid to reach out, especially if it is in the UTSA community. The worst that can happen is you’re told “no, sorry”. The experience I have gained is invaluable, and it would have never happened if I didn’t take a chance and send an email.

What did you enjoy the most about this experience?
I was able to apply what I’ve learned in my classes here at UTSA while also connecting with the local community. Conducting research that has the potential to improve the quality of life for special populations really brought everything full circle.

How has your internship prepared you for a career?
This experience with research has given me the opportunity to build a firm foundation in my field. This research complements my past, present, and future studies in kinesiology and I can directly apply what I’ve learned towards a career in health and kinesiology, as well as a future PhD program.

Michael shared with us a quote from Air Force veteran and author, Steve Maraboli that has defined and inspired his journey:  “do the best you can, with what you can, while you can”.

By Melissa Wallace
Melissa Wallace