Name: Jenna Owens
Hometown: Stephens City, VA. I’ve lived in the valley all my life!
Major: Biological Anthropology and English, with a minor in Medical Humanities!
Campus Involvement: Her Campus of course! I’m doing an internship for the Anthropology department, as well as serving on the student council for the Centennial Scholars Program. In addition, I work as a Madison Advising Peer.
Favorite Show to Binge-Watch: At the moment I’m watching Mad Men and Breaking Bad on Netflix, but when I need a good laugh I always turn to Seinfeld.
Favorite Spot on Campus: Sheldon Hall, home of the Anthropology department :)
What are your post-grad plans?
I’ve already given a lot of thought to this, and I’m most definitely planning to pursue my PhD so that I can study primates! I’m looking at grad schools in New York and Washington, D.C. I’m interested in primate reproduction and sexuality and hope to dedicate my life to the field.
What is one thing you didn’t know coming into JMU that you wish you had?
I wish someone would have told me more about the counseling services JMU offers. As someone who suffers from anxiety, I have found the free counseling services to be incredibly helpful. Although I’d heard about the services occasionally during my freshman year, I didn’t really take advantage of the resource until my sophomore year. I used to give tour guides for the Admissions Office and I always made sure to emphasize the resources JMU provided and the importance of taking care of one’s mental health. A lot of incoming students might be hesitant to start that conversation, and I want to help erase the stigma.
What drew you to studying Primatology?
My love for Primatology likely stemmed from the fact that I’ve always been a huge fan of Darwin and studying evolution, and that I’ve always been very passionate about studying sexuality. During my junior year of high school I gave a speech on sexual education in my English class and remember the whole class gasping when I said the word “condom”. Coming from a somewhat conservative small town, I embraced the opportunity to connect with people who shared my passion for feminism, sex positivity, and reproductive freedom when I got to JMU. I didn’t really know how to turn my passion into a career until I took a GenEd class in Biological Anthropology. When my professor got to his lecture on primate mating systems, that’s when I knew.
What is something that has shaped your experience at JMU?
During my first semester at JMU I was a victim of sexual harassment. At the time it was a devastating experience that completely destroyed me emotionally. Over time however, by taking advantages of resources like the counseling center and the Title IX office, I used my experience as a way to raise awareness. Since the incident I’ve written letters to President Alger, worked with Title IX on their Madison Alert system, and encouraged my fellow peers to always report incidences of sexual violence.
What has been your favorite part of your undergrad experience at JMU?
My favorite part about JMU has been the relationships I’ve made here. I’m gonna be real cheesy right now, but whatever! During my freshman year I met my boyfriend, Dan, at a coloring table in Carrier during finals week. I’m grateful every day that JMU brought us together, as I’ve never been in such a healthy, loving, and kind relationship. He graduated this past May and is currently working in the Admissions Office. We’re both so grateful for the opportunities JMU has given us.
I’ve also met some of my closest, dearest friends at JMU. Coming into college I was really nervous and probably tried too hard to be somebody I wasn’t. Around my friends though, I can be myself which is all I can really ask for in a friendship. I have two friends specifically who are always coming over or inviting us over to play Settlers of Catan and Super Smash Brothers with them. It’s such a great time! I’m not much of a party-goer, so it’s great to have other ways to fill my Friday nights.
Finally, some of the most rewarding relationships I’ve built here have been with my professors. It’s true what they say about JMU: even in a class with 100+ students, a professor will remember your name if you show a genuine interest in what they have to say. Make those connections! Go to office hours! Professors can teach you so much about college and the world in general.
Are you excited for anything in particular in the near-future?
This summer I’m hoping to attend field school in La Suerte, Costa Rica. One of my professors has a picture in his office of himself standing knee-deep in water while conducting research at the same field school, and that’s basically the dream! Going to field school would mean finally getting my passport, which I’m hoping will inspire me to finally catch the travel bug.