There are more than 5,000 international students from over 120 countries enrolled at Texas A&M University. Each has an interesting story of how they eventually made their way to Aggieland. That includes Sunday Simbo.
Sunday, a researcher in the Exercise and Sport Nutrition Lab (ESNL), is from the Republic of Cameroon. The west African country has a population of over 20 million and is the size of California.
Cameroon has six state universities in the whole nation; most of those don’t have an exercise or sports or health performance department. So Sunday chose to study in the United States. Knowing he eventually wanted to be part of a Ph.D. program in exercise science, Sunday knew that attempting studies in his home country would have been immense and time consuming.
“In Cameroon, exercise is respected but this form of research is completely missing,” Sunday says. “It would take as long as ten years to do a Ph.D. in Cameroon and most of the fields are not well established.”
He earned his bachelor’s degree in biochemistry, but went a different path than most researchers, earning a master’s degree in divinity at Baylor.
“When I came through the seminary, I thought about what I could do to help the body and soul and how my background could bring those together,” Sunday says.
While at Baylor, Sunday started doing volunteer work at the ESNL. Eventually, he was hired by the lab director, Dr. Richard Kreider. When Kreider accepted the position as head of the Department of Health and Kinesiology at Texas A&M, the lab moved to College Station. Many of the workers in the lab, including Sunday, came here as well.
Sunday is involved with research involving weight loss programs for women, part of a research grant with Curves International. The work day starts early; Sunday arrives at the building at 4am to begin calibrating machines and making sure all procedures are ready when study participants arrive.
He and other lab workers measure the progress of women in the study by measuring bone density and composition, weight, height and measurements for hips and the waist. Participants also receive stress testing to assess changes in exercise capacity and have a number of health markers evaluated.
“It’s been a wonderful experience being in the ESNL,” Sunday says. “I’ve had the opportunity to be supported by Curves to do research, something that I never imagined would happen, and I’m grateful for that.”
Sunday’s personal research goal revolves around improving the quality of life, both spiritually and through exercise. He believes in a triangle of wellness.
Mind, Body, and Spirit: To use exercise and nutrition combined with Biblical knowledge to improve overall health and wellness.
“Biblical studies may still be a part of my future, but I see myself staying in exercise science because I want to make use of the knowledge I’ve gained,” Sunday says.
Eventually, Sunday would like to take what he learned at Texas A&M back to Cameroon to enhance the education there. For now, he will enjoy the time in the Department and the ESNL.
“The research and the mentorship from Dr. Kreider have been excellent,” Sunday says.” “Good people, good colleagues, good director, good friends and Chris (Rasmussen) manages the lab well. It’s been a great experience.”