Norfolk woman beats the odds to graduate from EVMS

NORFOLK, Va (WAVY) — More than 400 students will graduate from Eastern Virginia Medical School on Saturday. One student in particular truly beat the odds to get her degree.

Operating as a surgical assistant takes a steady hand and keen sight. Kenita Jackson has the eye, but didn’t always have the vision.

“When I was a child, I didn’t see myself in a medical field. I knew what I wanted, but I didn’t think the medical field was for someone like myself.”

Jackson felt that because she grew up in Calvert Square, which is one of the roughest neighborhoods in Norfolk.

“I lost many friends due to gun violence,” Jackson told 10 On Your Side.

The first friend she lost was when she was 12, and it would not be the last one.

“The first death you kind of build yourself up it’s like a tolerance, which it shouldn’t be, but it becomes a tolerance for it,” Jackson says.

What she could not tolerate was raising another generation the same way.

“I had my first son in high school, and I knew I didn’t want him to grow up seeing the same things that I’ve seen, so I wanted to strive for better,” she says.

Jackson worked hard and graduated from Booker T. Washington High School. She then enrolled in Tidewater Community College where she met a woman who would change her life.

“I could never thank her because I don’t know whatever happened to her.” Jackson says.

That woman encouraged Jackson to follow her dreams and pursue a career in the medical field, even when everyone around her had doubts.

“I started telling my friends, you know I can do this because I was excited about this, and they just reminded me that no you can’t, this is not for us,” she remembers.

Jackson proved them wrong, moving on to Old Dominion University, and then receiving a full-ride scholarship to EVMS.

“I believe there’s a lot of doctors and surgeons out there in that neighborhood, lawyers, but no one has ever told them that,” Jackson says.

Kenita’s oldest son is off to college in the fall. Her youngest wants to be a doctor, and she could definitely see it happening.

Kenita is hoping to encourage other children with a new group she’s starting with a friend called FOCUS: Future Overcomers Uprising to Success.

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