Enlisting in the Army after high school, I served as an infantry paratrooper, completing back-to-back combat deployments to Iraq in 2003 and 2004. This experience left me with psychological wounds and questions about politics, ethics and how to create a meaningful life. I felt that I needed to address these questions to fully recover and return to civilian life. To heal my mind and refocus my actions towards positive change, I immersed myself in ethical studies and earned a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from UCLA. To heal my body, I turned to trail running and the mountains.
While living in Los Angeles, I began working in the photography industry and eventually starting my own business, Single Track Studio. My love for the outdoors and sports naturally evolved into a career shooting sporting events, athletes, landscapes, models, and commercial products. My images have been published internationally for companies like Whole Foods, Vega, and The North Face.
However, it was not until I sustained an injury while training for the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run that I could integrate my past experiences in the Army and my path to recovery into a career objective. The quality of care and compassion provided by my hospital nurses, coupled with their emphasis on a holistic approach to health, inspired me to become a nurse.
Despite many personal challenges, I enrolled in the rigorous Master’s Entry Program in Nursing (MEPN) at UCSF in 2018. I am currently in the Family Nurse Practitioner program there and working on a minor in psychiatric/mental health. As a nursing student, I have been able to establish therapeutic connections with patients, including veterans struggling with PTSD, which has reaffirmed my commitment to caring for trauma survivors. I hope to dedicate my research and nursing career to addressing overlapping biological, psychological, and social components of health.
In addition to my life in nursing school, I am a member of the Napa County Search and Rescue Team and a candidate for the Fellowship in the Academy of Wilderness Medicine (FAWM). Spending time in the mountains with friends or a good philosophy book is still what helps keep me happy and grounded.
Donovan Jenkins, RN
“Live without dead time.”