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The moves to a Master's degree

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Motion has been a constant throughout Omar Choque’s life.

As a child, the University of Guelph-Humber Kinesiology alumnus grew up in a household steeped in music and movement. Raised by a single mother who emigrated from Bolivia, Choque quickly learned different ways to move to the beat of the Latin music that filled his home, and as a young adult, he persevered to become proficient in styles including salsa, bachata, cumbia and merengue.

He could not have known it then, but he was taking his first steps toward pursuing an education exploring the workings of the body. He followed that interest all the way to a Master’s degree.

“I’ve always been fascinated by the human body, and that’s why I knew that the Kinesiology program at the University of Guelph-Humber was the right fit for me,” Choque said.

“Kinesiology is essentially the study of human movement, and what is dancing? Dancing portrays movement.”

A research revelation

Choque’s educational journey began at Humber College, where he was pursuing a diploma in Fitness and Health Promotion. In that environment, he began to become curious about the academic research process. Eventually, he approached an instructor who, at the time, was conducting research at Humber College, and asked to volunteer on a nutrition and exercise research study. Choque would transition from a volunteer on the project to a research coordinator and eventually a co-author.

It was then that Choque got his first taste of academic research, and he knew he wanted to go farther.

“I was intrigued by the process of how research was designed and conducted,” he recalled. “I became fascinated with the challenges and discoveries of research, which led to a cascade of opportunities.”

To explore the path further, Choque enrolled in the University of Guelph-Humber’s Kinesiology program in 2012. In addition to participating in a number of on-campus societies, Choque immersed himself in a series of research projects on the personal encouragement of an influential instructor.

The first research project Choque worked on at UofGH examined dietary manipulation and exercise training in active young women. The study demonstrated that the ingestion of carbohydrates combined with a plant-based protein after 18 sessions of concurrent training did not affect blood lactate concentration.

In the second research project Choque assisted on, the team was able to demonstrate that the addition of strength training to high-intensity interval training did not have an effect on blood-lactate metabolism after six weeks of training.

Graduate school and beyond

Choque’s experiences at the University of Guelph-Humber intensified his appreciation for academic research. He knew upon graduation he wanted to continue in the field.

He decided to continue on and earn a Master’s degree in Human Health and Nutritional Sciences from the University of Guelph. While there, he coordinated and led two metabolic research projects that eventually led to Choque presenting his findings at the Canadian Nutrition Society’s annual conference.

Choque still teaches dance professionally. Teaching, in fact, has become another passion for the UofGH alum – in part because of his inspiring interactions with faculty while he was a student here.

“I love to teach because it gives me the opportunity to really inspire and change people’s lives,” he said. “There was a professor at the University of Guelph-Humber who really took a personal interest in me. He encouraged and motivated me to get my research published. With his help, I did get it published through a prestigious journal.

“Ultimately, that segued into me wanting to do the same for my students.”