Tessi Muskrat Rickabaugh

Tessi Muskrat Rickabaugh is a member of the Cherokee Nation and a senior majoring in Women’s and Gender Studies and Religious Studies, minoring in Psychology. Passionate about sexual and mental health, Tessi began researching sexual trauma at the intersection of gender and religion during her first semester, writing a paper on the impact of sexual shame and disgust. As a Cherng Summer Scholar, Tessi created a survey for persons who experienced purity culture (a Christian sexual ethic that uses sexual disgust and fear to encourage abstinence until heterosexual marriage) and developed an interview protocol. Tessi received over 1300 survey responses and has completed 53 interviews.

A McNair Scholar under Dr. Cisco Sánchez, Tessi led Counseling Psych graduate students in a qualitative analysis of interviews with queer women and presented research at the A&S Undergraduate Research Forum, McNair conference, and American Psychological Association (APA)’s conference. In the A&S Undergraduate Research Mentorship Program, Tessi led grad students from Mizzou and Ohio in performing statistical analysis of the survey data which she presented at the National Multicultural Conference and Summit. Tessi has also presented papers on her research at the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion’s Annual Meeting in Oregon, and the Religion and Sexual Abuse conference in California. Deeply committed to academic collaboration, Tessi co-founded an international collective of purity culture researchers who collaborate regularly.

Tessi has done research for Religious Studies Department (funded by Missouri Humanities), presented at the Confluences conference. She joined the Deaton Scholars program, leads Religious Studies Club, participates in Four Directions Indigenous students’ organization, and is earning both Honors and Multicultural Certificates. She studied abroad at the Social Justice program in Costa Rica and will continue her education this fall as Counseling Psychology doctoral student at Mizzou. Tessi next presents her research at the APA conference in Minnesota.