Melissa Kinyon-Jumper ’08


Name:  Melissa Kinyon-Jumper
Residence:  Tulsa, Oklahoma
Degree:  Psychology
Occupation:  Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist 

For Melissa Kinyon-Jumper '08, a family and marriage therapist, one silver lining from the pandemic is her ability to reach clients that were previously shut out of mental health services.

Before the pandemic, Kinyon-Jumper was a school, home and office-based therapist and worked with lower income clients in rural communities and larger suburbs of Tulsa, Oklahoma. However, in 2020, like most of the world, she had to quickly transition to working virtually.

“Working with clients through a screen is very different than sharing a physical space, but it has created a new world of opportunities for individuals, couples and families who may not be able to leave their homes, live far from a major city, or work non-traditional hours,” said Kinyon-Jumper, who graduated in 2008 with a bachelor's degree in psychology and a minor in women's studies. She later obtained a master's degree in marriage and family therapy from Syracuse University.

She has been working in the mental health field since 2015, but therapists like her continue to battle stigmas associated with mental health. She is hopeful that more and more global communities will begin to acknowledge that mental health issues are real and deserve as much attention and support as physical health.

“It can be a very emotional process to help people unlearn misconceptions,” Kinyon-Jumper said. “If they're willing to take a risk and be vulnerable about something as traditionally stigmatized as their mental health, it's my job to fully support them in their time of need.”

Kinyon-Jumper, a Columbia, South Carolina, native, is eager to show people that therapy can be a valuable experience and journey towards healing and growth. As an undergraduate, professors like Cheryl Fortner-Wood, Merry Sleigh, Shelley Hamill and John Bird were supportive of her passion for advocating and supporting others.

“These professors did an amazing job of supporting me, showing that it was okay to be passionate about learning, breaking down barriers within the classroom and creating a broader worldview that still informs how I process and communicate with the world around me,” she said.

Kinyon-Jumper also names fellow alumna Vilissa Thompson '08, '12, as a source of inspiration.

“She is demanding that our society be a better version of itself through inclusivity, and I'm so grateful I have been able to see her personal and professional journeys since our freshman move-in day. Winthrop has many success stories, but hers continues to be on a global level,” she said.

Kinyon-Jumper believes the mental and behavioral health fields have the potential to change the world for the better. 



Vilissa Thompson '08, '12, doesn't let anything hold her back

Kimaka Nichols-Graham ‘94 wants to empower marginalized communities