2021 Tillman Scholar
Jena grew up knowing she wanted to serve her country and push boundaries while doing so. In fifth grade, she wrote an essay on what she wanted to be when she grew up. She chose an “infantry officer” only to find out from her father, a Vietnam Veteran, that females were not allowed to serve in combat arms.
Coupling her passion for fitness and service, Jena attended Boise State University, where she majored in Kinesiology and commissioned into the Army. After experiencing a significant knee injury during her train-up for a military school in 2015, Jena had negative experiences navigating the military’s arduous medical system. This initial interaction with military rehabilitation left a lasting impression.
As she continued her career, Jena saw that her negative rehabilitation experiences were not limited to just her. She saw the same frustrations felt across the formation, regardless of how elite the military unit was. Jena is currently serving as a troop commander at Fort Bragg and is leaving active duty this fall to attend the University of Puget Sound. She is pursuing a career in physical therapy to enhance the quality of life of others by making rehabilitation care more accessible to service members and underserved rural communities.