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Interview with Dr. Michelle Gerken, Therapeutic Recreation

This video is part of a series used in the online section of VTS 200 Introduction to Veterans Studies, taught exclusively at Eastern Kentucky University. Click here to take the first step in earning a Minor or Certificate in Veterans Studies.


Dr. Michelle Gerken is an Associate Professor of Recreation and Park Administration at EKU.She began her professional career with Lexington Parks and Recreation, serving at-risk youth at the Kenwick Community Center.  She graduated from the University of Kentucky in Recreation and Park Administration with an emphasis in therapeutic recreation. Later she worked for the Wilderness Road Girl Scouts as a Field Executive. She later received a Master’s in Recreation and Park Administration from UK, and upon graduation, she was employed by Asbury University as the Intramural Director and as a Professor in Recreation.

Later, she worked at the Thomson-Hood Veterans Center, helping to found the state’s first veterans home in Wilmore, Kentucky. She served up to 300 veterans at a time during her tenure. She worked with veterans from a variety of eras of service, learning about their unique needs and developing programming to improve their quality of life. Dr. Gerken holds a Ph.D. from the University of Louisville in Organizational Leadership and Education Administration. She has started two organizations: KATRA, or the Kentucky Area Therapeutic Recreation Association, and the Madison County Delinquency Council with Dr. Preston Elrod. Her research and service interests include at-risk youth, veterans, and individuals with autism, multiple sclerosis, and spina bifida.  She has been teaching at EKU for 23 years.


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