Meet Jessica Kuykendall ‘19: Rehab Services and Therapeutic Equine Intern

Hometown: Warsaw, MO

Major/minor: Exercise Science and a self-designed major in health psychology with a minor in nutrition

Anticipated graduation date: December 2019

Where did you do your internships? At the Fulton State Hospital and the Cedar Creek Therapeutic Riding Center in Columbia.

What made you choose these particular internships? I wanted to get more experience working with individuals with special needs and mental Illness. I was interested in seeing a variety of therapies in different locations.

What did you primarily learn from your internships? At the Fulton State Hospital, I have learned that therapy can come in many different forms. It might be exercise, or learning social skills, or learning life skills, or playing music, or doing recreational activities, or even just talking about your feelings and emotions and learning how to manage them.

At Cedar Creek, I learned that horses can provide many therapeutic benefits. They can be used for sensory integration, social skills, core and trunk strengthening, joint mobilization, emotional control and many other things. They are a great tool for motivating individuals to want to participate in therapy and to improve their therapy experience.

Are you glad you did the internships? I am glad I did both. At Cedar Creek, it was amazing to see the bond between horse and rider grow each week. I loved being able to help the riders learn some riding skills and see how happy they were on their horse. At the hospital, I have gotten to see what it takes to be a recreational therapist in a mental health facility. I had a really good experience getting to see a little bit of everything.

What are your future plans? My future plans are to go to graduate school and become a certified therapeutic recreation specialist. Then I am just going to see where life takes me. I want to provide therapy through activities that require movement to special-needs individuals or people with mental illness to improve their quality of life.

For more information on Westminster College internships, please contact Mandy Plybon, Coordinator of International Student Services and the WC Internship Program, at (573) 592-5382 or

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Sarah Rummel Backer

Sarah Rummel Backer is the Director of Media Relations and Senior Writer at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. A proud Westminster graduate, Sarah has more than 20 years of experience in marketing and strategic communications in the areas of higher education, medicine, agriculture, and the private business sector.