To celebrate the achievements and extraordinary resilience of the historic class of 2021, the Rappahannock News will feature one Rappahannock County High School senior each week until graduation on May 28. Students have been nominated by their teachers and mentors to be featured in the Senior Spotlight series.
Jenna Robey likes to be busy. In addition to finishing her senior year at Rappahannock County High School, she plays on the volleyball, softball and basketball teams, volunteers her time with the Amissville Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department, and, if that’s not enough, she gives haircuts to friends and family.
And when she graduates from RCHS in May, Robey is planning to become a career firefighter/paramedic. Robey’s parents are both emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and her father is also a firefighter. “It runs in our family,” Robey said.
Her interest in becoming a first responder was piqued a few years ago, when she and her parents were driving home one icy winter night. A car in front of them slid on the road, spun out and wrecked. Her parents immediately pulled over to help the driver.
“The person was very upset and the only thing I could do was stand there and try and make them feel better,” Robey said. “I just felt like I couldn’t do anything because I didn’t know what I was doing. And it kind of just made me feel like I want to get some education in it and … I just kept thinking, what if I was the person who needed help?”
The encounter inspired Robey to start volunteering with Amissville Fire as a junior member, assisting the senior firefighters in small ways. It didn’t take long for her to fall in love with the job.
What does she like about it? “Somebody really needs you and you can be that person to comfort them and help them,” Robey said. “I don’t do it to be praised and thanked, I do it because I’d rather be able to help somebody … than be one of the people who just stands there and says, ‘What do we do?’”
Robey completed a 280-hour EMT class last August and is now waiting to take the test that will induct her onto the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians. This fall, she plans to enroll in the paramedic program at Lord Fairfax Community College and get her certification as a phlebotomy technician. She knew she didn’t want to go to a four-year college, so she’s making her own way.
“The more I thought about what I wanted to do, I was like, I don’t need to go to [a four-year] college for that,” Robey said. “I think there’s a lot of jobs out there that you don’t need to go to college for … and those are essential things. And then, with the whole pandemic … it kind of makes you want to make sure you have a job if it gets shut down [again]. You never know.”
When Robey is not responding to calls, she is pursuing cosmetology. Having already earned her license from a program at Madison County High School, she gives haircuts to friends and family and paints nails for clients and friends.
“I thought maybe I could do it on the side because a lot of paid firefighters and paramedics have a side job because you do not work every day. And I enjoy it — I paint my mom’s nails all the time and my sister’s, I cut my dad’s hair and my sister’s boyfriend’s hair. It’s just another, you know, helping-people-out kind of thing for me. … It’s just fun,” she said.
“I keep telling my dad I want a she-shed salon. I tell him that all the time, and he’s like, ‘Jenna, no.’ And I’m like, ‘Dad, one day.’ And he says, ‘Yeah, one day, when you pay for it.’”
When asked what advice she would give to young people who are still figuring out what they might want to do after high school, Robey said: “A lot of kids don’t know what they want to do. I think that you need to get out there and actually try things. … Go to a fire house, go to a hospital, you can do internships and things like that. Get out there.”