Kayla Smock

2015-16 BS in Health Sciences Junior

Kayla Smock, a junior in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, hopes to combine two passions: horses, and helping people with disabilities.

“I want to go into hippotherapy. It’s therapeutic riding with horses. In previous years I volunteered with a program in Bloomington, Indiana, where people with disabilities come and ride horses. I saw the program and I love working with people with disabilities.”

Kayla participated in 4-H growing up and rode horses. She knows they are very special animals with a unique ability to connect to people who have a wide spectrum of needs.

“Horses help with any disability at all, physical or mental. The horses can help with somebody who is depressed and needs help with bonding and connecting. Or it can be with someone who needs to work on balance and core strengthening in general.”

While Kayla’s career path is certain now, that was not always the case.

“When I started as a freshman I was going to go into biomedical engineering, but then I realized I wanted to do more with people and use equipment rather than design it.”

After exploring different degree programs with her advisor, Kayla realized the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences was the right fit for her goals.

“I realized health sciences is a more direct path to occupational therapy. This track lets you personalize what you need to get into your professional schools. That was a big reason why I chose health sciences. I don’t have to waste my time taking classes that I don’t need.”

In preparation for graduate school, Kayla continues to build an impressive resume of volunteer work and internships. She is about to begin a research internship in the occupational therapy school, is volunteering for a pediatric occupational therapy clinic, and is preparing to line up a volunteer experience with a local clinic that utilizes hippotherapy. Kayla also spent part of her summer volunteering at a Bloomington hospital.