Nursing and networking
Jenna Black (Exercise Science, ’08) pursues the unique path of aesthetic nursing.
After graduating high school in Colorado Springs, Jenna Black (Exercise Science, ’08) knew Fort Lewis College was the place for her–close to family but far enough away to provide new opportunities. She also felt she needed the extra academic support afforded by a smaller school.
“I was so nervous because I wasn’t the best test-taker,” Black said. “I loved the smaller class sizes, and the professors are so down to earth; having that one-on-one with them was really helpful. At big universities, you’re on your own.”
While focusing on school, Black worked at a physical therapy externship, where she realized a passion for nursing. She graduated with degrees in Exercise Science and Psychology in 2008 and enrolled in biology classes to complete prerequisites for nursing programs.
“It took me three years to get accepted into a nursing program,” Black said. “Even though I graduated, I didn’t have it all figured out. Fort Lewis helped me through that, and my time there taught me how to build interpersonal relationships.”
Black started a nursing program at Pueblo Community College in 2011. Longtime local nurse practitioner Karen Zink offered Black her first nursing job and encouraged Black to pursue nursing school. While she prepared for nursing school, Black worked with Mark Gaughan, a doctor at Durango Dermatology. The experience inspired her to sit for the Certified Aesthetic Nurse Specialist board exam; she passed in 2017, becoming one of 14 CANS in Colorado.
“I fell in love with people’s stories behind why they seek out treatments,” said Black. “There’s something special about listening to people’s stories and how those evolve. It’s so much more than addressing brown spots and wrinkles; it’s trying to feel better in our skin. I specialize in helping people love what they see when they look in the mirror.”
Fort Lewis gave me the tools I needed to study and has been foundational in helping me learn how to network.
Black received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in 2021. She now works as a CANS at the plastic surgical practice Peak Rejuvenation in Durango with Jeffrey Williams, owner and doctor at Peak. In 2022, the Swiss Aesthetic Institute invited Black to attend The Inner Circle, the world’s premier conference for aesthetic medicine in Zurich, Switzerland. In 2023, she led the first aesthetics apprenticeship program in the Four Corners region. She hopes to inspire nurses to pursue continued education certifications and unique nursing paths.
“Fort Lewis gave me the tools I needed to study and has been foundational in helping me learn how to network,” said Black, who co-owns Durango’s speakeasy, The Bookcase and Barber, with her husband, Beau. “Nursing and networking have opened so many doors for me personally and professionally. I’ve never given out a resume; my whole path has been because of a conversation with someone.”