KUWomenofDistinction

Jenny McKee, M.S.Ed. (Right)

Jenny McKee, M.S.Ed. (Right)

How I became interested in my field:

I am a health educator who focuses on alcohol and sexuality education in the college population. However, I have deep ties to women’s health issues especially pregnancy and childbirth as well as the discrepancies in medical care provided to individuals based on their sex.

In high school I had a wonderful strength and conditioning coach who took the time to show me how my love for physical activity and wellness didn’t have to stop at being a hobby or pastime and how it could be a career choice. Having come from a very small town I was surprised (and relieved) to know that I could go into the field of health education.

Being the third oldest of eleven children offered many learning experiences. One is being given the awesome opportunity to witness the miraculous nature of the female body and its capabilities. As one would imagine, pregnancy and childbirth became normalized and having seen how well pregnancy and childbirth agreed with my mother I felt a great need to explore the trends in medicalization of childbirth in the this country and how and why we are attempting to turn a very natural occurrence into a disease that requires treatment.

An honor, achievement or accomplishment that is most meaningful to me and why:

Growing, delivering, and raising my son. I was in graduate school when I became pregnant and have been raising my son as a single parent for most of his life.

With the entire struggle that goes along with parenting and my desire to be a good parent as well as having a successful career, I cannot imagine a more wondrous or fulfilling honor for my life.

Someone who has been a role model for me and why:

My dad, Matt McKee, is my role model. Dad is a middle school principal currently but was a teacher and coach when I was growing up. As a little girl I would tag along with him to football and track practices, watching the way he interacted with his athletes and feeling so proud of how much they obviously respected him. Every time I heard him lecture, or give a pregame pep talk I felt like I wanted to be a part of what he was talking about. He makes people want to do their best. Having two older brothers and six younger ones has always given me a bit of toughness, but Dad’s tough love attitude is a big part of that as well.

When I told him that I wanted to play football instead of being a cheerleader he did not laugh it off. When I told him I wanted to learn how to spit, he taught me how. He was so adamantly vocal that my two sisters and I could do anything any of our brothers could do it gave me lasting confidence. His belief in me makes me believe in myself and his ability to always stay positive in times of adversity has been nothing short of inspiring.

My favorite KU memory:

My adventures in teaching; working as a GTA in graduate school and then being given the fantastic opportunity to teach a course this past year. I love getting the opportunity to engage with the students, seeing their youthful passion, knowing that they’re moving on to bigger and better things. What a gift it is to teach!

When times get tough, something that helps me get through it:

Running. When times get tough, I have to get tougher. Going for a nice long run or a short, fast one gives me a sense of accomplishment that I’ve not been able to get from anything else. I may have failed terribly and found myself in a tough place, but nothing is better than lacing up your shoes, finding your stride, and leaving all the yuck of the day out there on the road.

An important life lesson I have learned:

Huge weakness in my personality: I can be painfully stubborn and I HATE asking for help. Important life lesson? Sometimes you need to ask for help.

If I had a sister just entering college, I would want her to know….

So much! From a professional point of view I’d of course want for her to know about how alcohol and sexual activity can be a dangerous mix. I’d want her to know that she cannot have an expectation for someone to knock on her door and offer to show her how to make her time in college the amazing experience it is supposed to be. It’s up to her.

A favorite quote or saying and why it is meaningful to me:

When I was ‘graduating’ from eighth grade to high school I was faced with a huge (*wink*) dilemma – what to wear for the ceremony. My Grandma McKee was an impossibly fashionable woman so naturally, I asked her what she thought would be appropriate. While she didn’t choose between the black sheath and polka dot shirt dress I had selected, she offered the perfect response:

“Always dress like you are going somewhere better later”

Over the years I have recalled this advice and have noted that it bears many meanings. It speaks to putting your best forward, going into a situation expecting the very best outcome possible instead of just hoping for the best. I believe that she was giving me a lesson in how to have confidence, not being afraid to showcase your best attributes, being prepared for what’s next, and of course, looking fabulous.