Kessandra Kuyper ’19
Dakota City, Iowa
Kessandra Kuyper

Ultimate training

Kessandra was looking for a college that excelled in exercise science education. She found that at Northwestern, where she also found “a close-knit community that other schools just can’t compete with.” During her time as a Red Raider, Kessandra has participated in basketball and the college’s rugby club. She’s also a member of the Society of Pre-Physical and Occupational Therapy Students (SPPOTS) Club. The summer prior to her senior year, Kessandra was a strength and conditioning intern with the Ultimate Fighting Championship Performance Institute in Las Vegas, where she assisted with testing and training professional athletes.

Gut feeling

While I was drawn to Northwestern because of the top-notch exercise science and strength and conditioning programs, a huge part of my reason for choosing NWC was my gut feeling. When I came to visit campus, Northwestern just felt like home. I have some family nearby, the students were super welcoming, and the close-knit community made me feel like Northwestern would be a place where I could thrive and contribute in a meaningful way.

Knowledge gains

I have been deeply involved in sports, training and physical activities all of my life. Exercise science at Northwestern gave me the opportunity to dig deep into how my body responds to all of the stimuli I give it, and how to apply that knowledge to serving others. I also came to Northwestern leaning toward a career in physical therapy, and my studies have offered a great base to prepare me for a career in the field.

Strong profs

The Northwestern faculty are the absolute best. They are all here to make their students better, always willing to work with us outside of class, and constantly working to help us learn in any way they can. They are focused on our achievements rather than their own. The student-centered culture is a stark contrast to many other collegiate cultures and is one of the big selling points for coming to Northwestern.

Moved to serve

People often forget how important their physical health and well-being is to their spiritual well-being. Through my studies, I have learned that when we are healthy and able to move well, we are happier and able to do more throughout our lives. This leads us to be more capable to go out and share the Good News and help others in the world. The Bible says that our body is a temple and we must treat it well, as the Lord lives in and through us. My studies in exercise science taught me to make sure I don't overlook that.

More than knowledge

At Northwestern, I’ve gained much more than just an education. I’ve developed connections that will help me to further my career, relationships that will last a lifetime, memories I will treasure forever, and a renewed and deepened faith.


In two words, I’d describe my internship with Ultimate Fighting Championship Performance Institute as “the dream.”  Prior to interning, Northwestern’s strength and conditioning program gave me firsthand experience coaching athletes in the weight room. I learned how to connect with athletes, teach and correct movements, assist the head strength coaches, and coach with authority and confidence. These things came into play when I had to step into a gym filled with professionals at the top of their fields. I needed to have confidence as well as the knowledge and experience to back that confidence up—and Northwestern gave that to me.