Dr. Jennings, a native of Houston, Texas, received her bachelor’s degree in Human Biology, from Stanford University and completed medical School at the University of Texas at San Antonio. She served as Senior Resident in Pediatric Neurosurgery at Children’s Hospital in Boston and as a Neurosurgical Resident at Upstate Medical University in Syracuse.
While attending Stanford University, Dr. Jennings developed an interest in health care. She became passionate about serving under-served communities and in fact, after graduation, worked at the Native American Woman’s Health Education Resources Center at the Yankton Sioux Reservation in South Dakota where she forged mutually strong relationships with Native American Women. The organization addressed issues specific to this community, like environmental concerns and domestic violence.
And following, Dr. Jennings joined AMERICORPS, the “domestic Peace Corp” in San Francisco, where she worked full-time at South Market Center, a free clinic serving primarily the homeless population. She assisted a segment of the population who suffered from concomitant mental health and substance abuse problems.
Returning to Texas to enroll in Medical School in San Antonio, Dr. Jennings worked with the local VA and helped to develop a free clinic for the residents of San Antonio. As a medical school student, she witnessed her first Open Heart surgery. That experienced inspired her to enter the field. Said Jennings, “The intricacies of brain and spine, and the surgery required for conditions such as tumors, trauma, vascular malformations and degenerative changes are fascinating, as are the continuing advances in the field, such as neuronal repair and deep brain stimulation.”
Dr. Jennings notes that women comprise only a small percentage in the field of surgery. She estimates that of the 4,000 neurosurgeons now practicing in the United States, only 100-200 are women. She also notes that Neurosurgery Residency is a seven-year program and extremely competitive to obtain. Only 150 neurosurgery residencies were available across the country when she first applied.