Freshman Jenna Kennedy ‘21 says she chose Carlow for its unique perfusion technology program in the Biology Department and not its hilltop campus. But the slopes beckon to the Fayette County native. She spends every winter weekend training as a competitive snowboarder.
In February, Jenna qualified to compete in the 2018 national championships at Copper Mountain, Colorado. She nabbed first place in all four races in her division for The Appalachian Series at Virginia’s Massanutten Ski Resort.
Since age 17, Jenna has competed at a national level as a member of United States Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) and United States of America Snowboard and Free Ski Association (USASA).
At Seven Springs Resort where she practices, Jenna is the only female competitor in boadercross, a style of snowboarding that involves speed and obstacles. Instead of acrobatic tricks and big jumps, boardercrossers must quickly maneuver around turns, changes in terrain, and obstacles--including other competitors on the course at the same time.
Last year, she upped her game by training with Jeff Brier, a coach who spends the summer training Olympic athletes in Denver. She placed second in all three races in The Appalachian Series at Massanutten. At the end of last season, Jenna ranked third in the United States for women’s boardercross.
Coming from a family of skiers, Jenna taught herself snowboarding four years ago from YouTube.
“I’m committed. I love it. I try to get all of my schoolwork done during the week, so that leaves the weekend open to snowboard,” she said.
Undaunted, Jenna chose her major in the medical field with the same conviction. Her interest in perfusion technology started when she observed an open heart surgery with her high school’s health career club. She watched a perfusionist care for the patient during heart surgery.
“I got to see what perfusionists do. I thought it was really cool, and I wanted to do it,” she recalls.
In the meantime, Jenna catches air on her custom Donek snowboard. Her bravery will be an asset in the future both on the slopes and at work in the operating room.