Over the next two weeks, we will be profiling students from this fall's incoming class as a part of the series Meet the Class of 2026.
Following her junior year of high school, Jennifer Owen started working in Emergency Medical Services (EMS) as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT).
“For some people, it sounds a little crazy because I was a 17-year-old riding in an ambulance,” Owen said.
But she absolutely loved it.
The experience in EMS has “helped me completely decide that I like pursuing medicine,” Owen said. “I want to be a nurse. I like medicine, and I love helping people.”
As someone who works well under pressure, Owen’s ultimate goal is to become a critical care nurse, working on a medical helicopter or in the cardiac care unit.
For this incoming freshman, George Mason University’s School of Nursing is her next step in making that a reality.
Owen said that when a fellow EMT recommended Mason’s School of Nursing because of its advanced programs, and its role in, as she said, “advocating for you to become the best health care provider you can be,” she was excited to attend as a nursing major.
She is especially enthusiastic about joining Mason’s American Medical Women’s Association, a female-run organization focused on empowering women in the medical field and advocating for female patients and women’s health.
“I am a female, Asian, young EMT, and you never see that on an ambulance,” Owen said. “I think this group that I’ve joined will try to change that or at least bring awareness to it.”
Owen began her EMS work at a young age as a student at the Academies of Loudoun, part of Loudoun County Public Schools.
There, she participated in the EMT program and received her Virginia EMT certification and National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) certification.
At the Academies of Loudoun, she also completed the Certified Nurse Aide (CNA) program, and in March worked as a nurse’s aide in a nursing home.
Because she worked toward her certifications during the COVID-19 pandemic, the work was “crazy” and “hard,” she said. “We had limited clinical hours and really limited ability to do practicals.”
The transition to the field was even more difficult.
“I knew how to treat someone, and I knew a lot of textbook stuff, but I didn't know a whole lot about actually working in the field,” Owen said. “I had to relearn a lot.”
Her hard work paid off when one of her instructors, who was also the sitting executive president at Purcellville Volunteer Rescue Squad in Purcellville, Virginia, urged her to join their team in 2021, she said.
Owen has worked with Purcellville Rescue at least once a week for more than a year. She now serves as a released attendant-in-charge, which means she is primarily responsible for the provision of emergency medical care on her ambulance.
“Jennifer has grown into an exceptional EMT and brings a tremendous amount of patience and compassion to her service to her patients,” said Kevin Kelly, chief of Purcellville Rescue. “As a volunteer, Jennifer has amazing dedication and a willingness to give her time to the community, which is exemplary.”
Owen said she’ll continue working with Purcellville Rescue while completing her nursing degree at Mason.
“I’m not ready to give up Purcellville Rescue or EMS yet,” she said.