Texas A&M-Kingsville Student Named Top Undergraduate Kinesiology Student in the Nation

KINGSVILLE - April 08, 2015

Contact: Adriana Garza-Flores
Email: adriana.garza@tamuk.edu
or Phone: 361-593-4979


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          Samantha Cantu, a senior Exercise Science/Pre-PT major at Texas A&M University-Kingsville, is the 2015 recipient of the American Kinesiology Association’s (AKA) Undergraduate Scholar Award. The award is given to the top undergraduate kinesiology student in the nation.

          The national award comes just weeks after Cantu received a comparable honor at the state level. In February, Cantu received the Texas Undergraduate Scholar Award from the Regional Chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine, awarded to the top undergraduate in the state.

          Faculty from the Department of Health & Kinesiology nominated Cantu for the national award. Each of the more than 140 colleges and universities submit an AKA Scholar recipient from their respective institutions. All the scholars from the member institutions from across the country comprise the candidate poll for the AKA National Scholar Awards recognizing the top undergraduate, graduate and doctoral scholars. Awards are based on exceptional academic performance, outstanding scholarly interest in a kinesiology-related field and demonstrated leadership and service in the profession.

         Other finalists for the Undergraduate Scholar Award included students from California State University-Monterey Bay, University of Oklahoma and Temple University.

         “It is an honor to have been nominated and chosen for this prestigious award, especially at a national level,” Cantu said. “The AKA National Undergraduate Scholar award proves that all of the hard work and accomplishments I have worked toward for the past four years at A&M-Kingsville have not gone unnoticed and have paid off greatly.  This award also represents to me that a wide range of professionals, in addition to my professors here, believe that I have the potential to succeed and I am proud to say that I will continue to work to meet their expectations.”

          Dr. Christopher Hearon, chair of the Department of Health & Kinesiology, said Cantu has had a significant impact on the department and university.

          “I really do not know how to adequately express how impressive this accomplishment is.  First she was named top exercise science undergraduate in the state, now top kinesiology undergraduate in the nation.  What an honor for her, and what a major recognition for our department and university,” Hearon said. “She will be missed, but I look forward to seeing what great things she does as her career unfolds.”

          Cantu credits the faculty in the Department of Health & Kinesiology for helping provide her opportunities to grow as a scholar, researcher and as a professional.

         “Without these opportunities, I do not think I would have achieved as much as I have.  The kinesiology faculty has been a great help and have made my experience here at Texas A&M University-Kingsville memorable.  Additionally, I would like to personally thank Dr. Hearon, as he has been a mentor to me these past several years, especially through research, and has directed me towards to right path for Physical Therapy school.  I do not think I would have received this award without his help and guidance.”         

Cantu, who graduates in May, plans to pursue a Doctorate of Physical Therapy at Texas Tech University and may go on to pursue a Ph.D. in Exercise Science or Rehabilitation Sciences.

About the American Kinesiology Association

            The American Kinesiology Association (AKA) is comprised of departments of kinesiology, or academic units that house kinesiology-related programs (e.g., physical education, exercise science, sport management, etc.), at over 140 colleges and universities across the nation.  The Department of Health & Kinesiology at A&M-Kingsville is an AKA member department, one of 14 in the state of Texas.