Jenna Obeid worked as a lifeguard at Moraine Valley’s Health, Fitness & Recreation Center (FitRec) while a sophomore in high school. She was so impressed by the campus, she decided to attend Moraine Valley after graduating. “It was the right fit for me,” says Jenna. “I loved the campus, and it was close to home.” She hoped to pursue a degree in respiratory therapy.

Due to the pandemic, the college’s Respiratory Therapy Program was cut from 28 to 16. Unfortunately, Jenna was cut from the program. “There was nothing I could do. I felt so defeated,” she said. However, at the last minute, she was notified she could start the program in the fall of 2020. “It was a miracle,” she said. “I remember telling myself ‘this happened for a reason,’ and I told myself I deserved to be there.”

The Respiratory Therapy Program offered diverse clinical sites, which helped Jenna become more comfortable with different ventilators and procedures. She considers Carolyn DeWitt, program coordinator, a role model. “I hope to become a respiratory educator and be as supportive and motivating as she was for me,” Jenna said.

Jenna received several Foundation scholarships, including the FitRec Scholarship, Kiwanis International Scholarship and Arab American Academic Excellence Scholarship, which helped her achieve her educational goal.

While a Moraine Valley student, Jenna also worked part-time at OSF Little Company of Mary Medical Center as a respiratory therapy assistant. “I was able to practice the skills from class and learn outside of the classroom,” she said.

In addition, she continued to work as a lifeguard and swim instructor at the FitRec for four years. While there, she met Lorenzo Ornelas, a fellow lifeguard and Moraine Valley student. “We worked together and had a few classes together,” she said. “Moraine Valley is where it all started for us.”

Jenna and Lorenzo were married and now live in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Jenna works as a respiratory therapist at Mary Washington Hospital, while her husband serves in the Navy.

Although a bit homesick for her family in Illinois, Jenna loves her job working in a Level I Trauma Center with a Level III Neonatal Care Unit. She said her time at Moraine Valley prepared her for this fulfilling position.

“I learn something every single day and help save lives by managing the airway,” said Jenna.