The Health, Kinesiology, and Recreation Department at Southern Arkansas University is celebrating a record number of student interns and the success of Hannah Hanson and Jamarious Nelson both who are SAU graduates on the road to professional programs.
The department has experienced significant growth over the past few semesters, especially in the Exercise Science degree program. Twenty-five HKR students obtained internships in the spring, and 16 out of the 25 were Exercise Science majors.

Internships allow students to incorporate the theory they have learned in the classroom and apply it to real-life situations. The skills and knowledge that students develop while practising under professionals are second to none.

“The past few semesters we have emphasized the importance of internships,” said Steve Dingman, chair of the department and internship supervisor. “The higher quality the experience, the greater benefit it will provide our students in employment and networking opportunities. I am proud that our students are responding and that we can assist them in securing high-quality internship sites that will shape their professional career.”

The program placed interns in 10 different physical therapy/rehabilitation locations, including one in speech pathology and five working in strength and conditioning locations.

Exercise Science majors normally pursue one of two career pathways with their degree. One track is strength and conditioning/fitness training, while the other leads to professional schools such as physical therapy and occupational therapy. SAU graduates, Hannah Hanson and Jamairous Nelson, chose the path that led them to professional programs.

According to the Press Release, Hanson, from Texarkana, Texas, has been accepted into the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at Harding University. Nelson, from Many, Louisiana, has been accepted into the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at Missouri State University. Both completed professional internships during the spring semester.

Hanson interned under Rachel Grimmett, DPT, at the Sportsplex by HealthCare Express in Texarkana, Texas. “We see a wide variety of patients and a range of injuries as well,” she said. “Over the past few months, I have not only had the opportunity to learn about new techniques and exercises for specific injuries, but I have been able to work with several patients, too. Overall, “I loved the experience and cannot wait to begin physical therapy school in August.” She plans to further her education in physical wellness by taking advantage of two-week missions to Africa, helping patients who might not otherwise be able to receive treatment. After completing her missions and studies, she plans to become a travelling physical therapist working in pediatrics.
Nelson held an internship at Wentworth Place in Magnolia, learning from professionals how to facilitate exercises and observe patients. He gained valuable knowledge in the rehabilitation department that will help him become a physical therapist.
Having gone through the process of securing a competitive placement in physical therapy school, Nelson advised those who might follow in his path to start planning early. “Do not give up or get discouraged,” he said. “The process is long but well worth it.”

For more information about the HKR Department, visit For more information about Exercise Science, please visit

More From Kicker 102.5