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The HorseWhisperer

Christi Schweninger Animal and Nutritional Sciences
Southampton, New Jersey

The Cave Photographer
The Performer

Christi Schweninger always loved horses and dreamed of working with them. But she didn’t know how to make that dream a reality until she discovered WVU’s Equine Studies Program. Her classes opened her eyes to new career possibilities—and a horse industry tour in Ireland inspired her to plan a future nurturing new generations of thoroughbreds.


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As a girl, Christi Schweninger would get too homesick to spend the night at a friend’s house. Four years at WVU have given her a new home—and the confidence and skills to embark on a career in the global thoroughbred industry.

What is your career goal?

My career goal is to be a reproductive specialist for thoroughbred racehorses.

When you have 30 minutes of free time, how do you pass the time?

There are few things in life I like more than my bed with my one million pillows, so with 30 minutes of free time you can find me curled up in my bed.

What's your quote to live by?

You do not become strong or graceful because things worked out. You get that way because things went wrong and you handled them. You handled it a thousand different ways on a thousand different days, but you handled it.

Where is your favorite view in West Virginia?

My favorite view is from the top of the student section at Mountaineer Field on game day.

Favorite Morgantown restaurant?

I have worked at Morgan’s High Street Diner since they opened so I am a little biased toward them and their chicken and waffle sandwich, but I would also do just about anything for a DP Dough Mac and Cheese Zone.

Favorite movie?

Movies are always a tough category for me, but I have seen “How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days” over 100 times so I guess that’s a contender.

Favorite song?

Anything old-school Taylor Swift on a rainy day.

Fictional character who is most like you?

My horse girl-ness is really going to come out on this one, but Hayden Panettiere in “Racing Stripes” because I would totally rescue a baby zebra and race it if I could.

What surprised you most about WVU when you got to campus for the first time?

What surprised me the most was all the hills!

If you could only visit one more place on campus, where would you go?

I think if I could only visit one more place on campus I would go to the stadium and play “Country Roads” on my phone and just sit.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

If I could travel anywhere I would go to Australia. I went to Ireland this past summer and checked that off my bucket list, so Australia is the next stop!

If you were to title your own autobiography, what would it be?

I polled my friends for what they think my autobiography would be called since they know me best. The unanimous answer was “A Series of Unfortunate Events” but since that is already taken, I think I’ll go with “Christi Schweninger: Enjoy the Ride.”

What couldn’t you live without?

I couldn’t live without my mom and my grandparents. They do so much for me and are the best people I think I will ever know.

Most valuable skill you have?

I think my most valuable skill is that I am a people person. I can strike up a conversation with anyone about just about anything.

What about any hidden talents?

I can wiggle my ears; does that count?


Why did you choose to come to WVU?

I came to WVU because of the equine department. It was unlike anywhere else that I looked into because it was the only university that offered more than just a track for vet school. I felt like I had options here, and that was the most attractive quality to me.

Why is WVU special to you?

WVU is special to me because I grew up exponentially here. I was the girl who couldn’t stay overnight anywhere without needing my mom to pick me up in the middle of the night, and then I came to school five hours away and that wasn’t an option anymore. I faced things here that I thought were the end of the world and also had some of my greatest triumphs here. I learned so much about myself and met some of the most amazing people that I wouldn’t trade for the world. There are no words to describe how thankful I am for this university and the decision my 17-year-old self made to spend four years here.

What's your favorite class you've taken at WVU?

All of the horse classes I have taken here have been amazing, but my favorite of all was the Ireland Horse Industry Tour that I went on this summer. We toured Ireland, going to some of the biggest thoroughbred breeding farms and also had plenty of cultural experiences as well. I also am pursuing an internship at one of the farms we visited, so fingers crossed — maybe I’ll be going back after graduation!

Who has been your favorite professor so far?

Crystal Smith has been my favorite professor by far. She has been my teacher for all of the equine classes and is my adviser as well as my boss at the Reedsville Farm. Crystal has an unlimited knowledge bank and always has the best advice — educational or otherwise. She has been essential in my time here and also for my future, and I can’t thank her enough.

What’s the most challenging course you took?

The most challenging course for me has been chemistry. I put if off until the last minute.

What class did you learn the most from?

I learned the most from the Careers in the Equine Industry class. We did sample resumes, sample applications, cover letters, etc., all of which will be super helpful for getting jobs after graduation.

What's your most memorable moment at WVU?

I actually think that being featured on Project Me is pretty memorable! I am so honored to be able to share my experiences with incoming students!

What is WVU's hidden gem nobody knows about?

I have lived in Sunnyside for the past two years, and there is a hidden gem of a parking spot that I know about. ;)

What advice would you give to a student thinking of coming to WVU?

The best advice that I can give incoming students is find someone who is as homesick as you and it will make it so much easier. That is how I met one of my best friends and I am forever thankful for her getting me through that first few weeks. On the same note, make it work for at least a month, use that as your goal, and I promise you by the time that month comes you will be having the time of your life and won’t even think about missing home anymore.

When I'm on campus, you can most likely find me …

When I’m on campus you can most likely find me feeding my coffee addiction somewhere.

When you come to visit campus, you must visit…

You must visit Woodburn Circle. I know it sounds cliché but it is an iconic piece of WVU and is beautiful lit up at night.

Where do you do your best studying?

I do my best studying on my couch.

What advice would you give for surviving finals?

My advice for surviving finals is to take good notes throughout the semester and stay organized. Come the end of the semester, you will thank yourself for keeping all your exams, homework assignments and quizzes to look back on easily. Oh, and make sure you have a coffee pot that can keep up with the demand.

What's your proudest accomplishment so far while at WVU?

Just knowing that I am going to graduate on time. There were times when it wasn’t easy and times that I wanted to lower my course load and maybe stay an extra semester but I am so proud of myself for powering through and never giving up!

Best thing about college life?

The best thing about college life is being able to make your own schedule — school and social. I’m always caught off guard when I am home and leave to go out somewhere and my mom asks me where I’m going.

Worst thing about college life?

The worst thing about college life is having to take care of yourself when you are sick.

How has WVU changed you?

WVU has changed me in many ways, but I think the most significant is my independence.

What do you look forward to most as an alum?

I look forward to coming back to campus for football games and seeing how much campus has improved, even though I’ll probably be extremely jealous.

How has WVU impacted your passion?

WVU has impacted my passion a lot. I came into college knowing that I wanted to work with horses, but I didn’t know what exactly I wanted to do. I got my off- the-track thoroughbred, Sushi, my sophomore year. That definitely helped to sculpt my interests, but so did all of the trips we took as part of the Collegiate Horsemen’s Association. The Equine Program that highlighted thoroughbreds and put equine reproduction on my radar.

If you could do one thing differently in your time at WVU, what would it be?

If I could do one thing differently I would space out the equine classes. I took them all in my first two years, and now I’m a senior taking chemistry and there is no fun in my schedule anymore.

What will you miss most about WVU when you graduate?

As said by the great Asher Roth in the anthem “I Love College”: " Do I really have to graduate or can I just stay here for the rest of my life? I will miss everything about WVU (except math class). WVU has a one-of-a-kind atmosphere with one-of-a-kind people that I don’t think I would find anywhere else in the world. Morgantown will always have a place in my heart, and I will never stop correcting people that West Virginia is in fact its own state.

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