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Durant student finds path to medical career begins at Southeastern

October 29, 2020

Dr. Tim Smith observes Jensen Simmons at work in the lab. Simmons, a junior from Durant, will begin medical school at the Oklahoma State College of Osteopathic Medicine next year.

DURANT, Okla. – While some local high school students may choose to pursue their higher education goals away from home, Jensen Simmons is a great example of someone who found everything he needed at Southeastern Oklahoma State University.

“I like Durant, my family’s all here, and there are a lot of great things going on with great opportunities at Southeastern,’’ said the 2018 Durant High School graduate. “It was an easy decision for me to stay here.’’

Like most college freshmen, Simmons was unsure of his career goals, but he soon made the decision to pursue a career in medicine. The junior Chemistry-Biology double major is part of the Southeastern and Oklahoma State University Center for Health Services (OSU-CHS) 3+1 program.

This  program allows students to complete their pre-doctoral medical training in seven years by completing three years of intensive undergraduate education at Southeastern and four years of medical education at OSU-CHS in its Rural Medical Track . After completing the first year of medical school and meeting certain academic requirements, Southeastern will award an undergraduate degree to students accepted in the 3+1 Program.

Simmons, whose wife Jenny is a graduate of the East Central at Southeastern nursing program and works at a local hospital, has already been accepted by the Oklahoma State College of Osteopathic Medicine. He will begin his studies there next year.  Jenny, from Blanchard, Oklahoma, met Jensen at Southeastern through their involvement  at the Student Bible Center. His mother also has a science degree from Southeastern, while his father is a local business owner and his younger brother is a senior at Durant High.

“When I first started at Southeastern, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do,’’ Simmons admitted. “I was selected for the Honors Program, and then Dr. (Tim) Smith (Chair of Chemistry, Computer and Physical Sciences) introduced me to the 3 + 1 program. Dr. Smith, Dr. (Diane) Dixon (Chair of Biological Sciences), and Dr. (Ning) Wu (Biological Sciences professor) have all been instrumental in helping me down that path. They have created a great environment in that program. And it (science) is what I love to do.’’

Having competed in both football and baseball at Durant High School, Simmons briefly considered playing baseball at Southeastern, but decided to devote full attention to his studies. In fact, because of his rigorous academic load, the only organization he is involved with is the Student Bible Center, where he is a student representative.

Pediatrics and family medicine are two of the fields Simmons is considering as he looks forward to continuing his studies at medical school.

“A couple of family friends work in the field of medicine and they have influenced me as far as understanding the importance of helping people,’’ he said. “I would definitely consider coming back close to this area (to practice).’’