2019 Tillman Scholar

Donovan Jenkins

University of California - San Francisco
M.S., Family Nurse Practitioner

“I have found that meaning in life comes not from what I have but what I give to others.”

Enlisting in the Army after high school, Donovan Jenkins served as an infantry paratrooper, completing back-to-back deployments to Iraq in 2003 and 2004. This experience left Donovan with psychological wounds and questions about politics, ethics and how to create a meaningful life. Donovan needed to address his recovery and return to civilian life on multiple levels. To heal his mind and refocus his actions towards positive change, he immersed himself in ethical studies and earned a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from UCLA. To heal his body, he turned to trail running.

However, it was not until Donovan sustained an injury while training for an ultramarathon that he could integrate his past experiences in the Army and his path to recovery into a career objective. The quality of care and compassion provided by his hospital nurses, coupled with their emphasis on a holistic approach to health, inspired him to become a nurse.

Despite many personal challenges stemming from Donovan’s PTSD, he enrolled in the rigorous Master’s Entry Program in Nursing (MEPN) at UCSF in 2018. He is currently in the Family Nurse Practitioner program and working on a minor in psychiatric/mental health. As a nursing student, Donovan has been able to establish therapeutic connections with patients, including veterans struggling with PTSD, which have reaffirmed his commitment to caring for trauma survivors. Donovan hopes to dedicate his research and nursing career to addressing overlapping mental and physical health issues in patients and providing holistic, trauma-informed care.