By: Tedi Rountree
June 15, 2015

52 Stories, Jennifer Jenkins

Number 24, June 16, 2015

Biology major Jennifer Jenkins ’16 didn’t start college as a scientist-to-be. Since she was 11 years old, she had spent her summers with the Island Players, the community theatre on St. Simons Island, and their Young Peoples Summer Workshop. So when she graduated from Glynn Academy in 2011, voted “most dramatic” as her senior superlative, this island girl enrolled in the theatre arts program at Valdosta State University.

During her two years there, she took some non-major biology classes and liked them. “But I didn’t feel focused at Valdosta,” she admitted. “I wasn’t living up to my potential, not really putting my heart into it.” Hearing about the transformation happening at Coastal Georgia, she decided she wanted to transform as well, so she transferred and became a Mariner beginning fall semester 2013.

“Right away I noticed a difference. The classes were smaller and more intimate. I immediately became more engaged in my coursework,” she said.

The College of Coastal Georgia was the college experience she was seeking. And she is on track to graduate in May 2016 with a B.S. in biology, coastal ecology track. In fact, she’s doing so well that she not only received the Outstanding Junior Student in Biological Sciences for Coastal Ecology, earned a perfect 4.0 GPA for four consecutive fall and spring semesters, and joined the Golden Key International Honour Society, but also she was accepted for the summer 2015 CEMITURE program in chemistry at Georgia Southern University.

“Yes, organic chemistry,” she laughed. “I love all the sciences.  I’m trying to get as much experience in each subject as possible, because I will be applying to graduate school soon and I need to focus on what area I could see myself making a career.”

The acronym CEMITURE stands for collaborative multidisciplinary investigations through undergraduate research experiences. Her summer research project is titled “transition metal-based catalysts for Csp3-H bond activation of 2-methyl azaarenes.”

But she isn’t just all about studying and research; she has an active campus life and is engaged in community service-learning. In fact, she also won a 2015 Service-Learning Excellence Award as an outstanding student for her work at Cannon’s Point in conjunction with Assistant Professor of Biology Dr. Tate Holbrook’s conservation biology class.

Just about every week she was on multiple field trips: to Cannon’s Point and to Little St. Simons Island for Dr. Holbrook and to Sapelo Island for aquatic biology and ecology with Professor Jan McKinnon, an adjunct professor of biology at the College who has worked as a biologist with the Coastal Resources Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources for 15 years.

Cannon’s Point OystersAs secretary of the campus Biology Club, she and fellow member Maddie Smith organized volunteers to fill mesh bags with oyster shells at Cannon’s Point for use in restoring oyster bed habitat as part of the Living Shoreline project there. The Biology Club adopted Lawrence Creek as part of the DNR’s Adopt-a-Wetland program and will be monitoring water quality at Cannon’s Point Preserve monthly.  Jenkins became QA/QC [quality assurance and control] certified to facilitate the water quality samplings.

Jenkins will serve as president of the Biology Club her senior year. “I want the club to be a place where like-minded people can get together for fun through field trips and workshops, as well as networking,” she said.

She also serves as a supplemental instructor for Biology 1107 as well as tutoring biology, psychology and organic chemistry students. “I love being able to help students get more interested in the sciences.”

When she learned on April 1 that she had been accepted to the summer CEMITURE program for 10 weeks of collaborative research, including a $5,000 stipend for her work, she called her mother to tell her the good news. “My mom thought I was joking because it was April Fool’s Day,” she laughed. “But when it comes to my education, I am a very serious student.”