When I discovered that Jennifer Stevens, RN with the Renown Cancer Nursing Unit is also a First Violin with the University of Nevada Symphony Orchestra (UNRSO), I knew I had to interview her.
I was approximately one semester out from applying to nursing school, and I needed a one credit class to keep my status as a current student at my university. I hadn’t played violin for nearly three years at that time so initially I did not consider anything in the music department. After realizing that there wasn’t much available – and yes, I even tried basket weaving – I happened upon private music lessons for 1-3 credits. I called the violin professor and arranged a meeting. I was placed with Brune Macary and began having a one hour lesson each week for the semester. It was Brune who reigniting my passion for playing music and helped me correct several issues with technique that had been holding me back for more than a decade. After that semester, we continued to play together as friends. I worked hard to bring my playing to a level suitable to audition for the University Symphony Orchestra. Music balanced the rigorous academic and professional goals and became a refuge and outlet for me through the rest of my time in nursing school and my transition to nursing practice. Now, it is impossible for me to imagine my life without it, and I take great pleasure in nurturing and developing my abilities in music.
Who are your heroes in real life?
I’m not sure that I have “heroes” per say. Perhaps that’s because I am part of a profession that requires heroics every day to keep people alive and help them achieve their optimum health. Therefore, the amazing nurses and physicians that I work with every day are heroes to me. I typically draw inspiration from everyday people who are great at what they do and enjoy life. I always try to see the best in people, which contributes to my positive outlook in general. That being said, popular/well-known figures that inspire me are the late Maya Angelou, Condoleezza Rice, Jackie Joyner-Kersee and several other professional and semi-professional athletes who display excellence in their character, Itzhak Perlman, Dmitri Shostakovich, and others. I think that the one of the reasons these people are heroes to me, is not because they are famous, but because they overcame significant adversity and achieved their goals through hard work and humility.
A quote by Jackie Joyner-Kersee reached me at a young age. It is what I consistently remind myself of and is as follows: “The glory of sport comes from dedication, determination and desire. Achieving success and personal glory in athletics has less to do with wins and losses than it does with learning how to prepare yourself so that at the end of the day, whether on the track or in the office, you know that there was nothing more you could have done to reach your ultimate goal [italics mine].” I often interchange life with sport and whatever activity I am engaging in with athletics. Self-preparation is one of foundational concepts upon which my life activities and goals rest, and ultimately helps me overcome setbacks and less than optimal outcomes.
How do you balance your day-to-day commitments with your creative pursuits?
Balance is difficult to achieve to be sure. My goal is to be the best that I can be in whatever it is I am doing, which typically requires that a lot of time be invested. Therefore, I see time as one of my biggest obstacles to getting everything I want to accomplish done. I find that the best way to manage everything is to plan my schedule in a meticulous manner – including sleep and rest time – and hold myself accountable to that schedule. I know that perfection is largely unattainable, but I spend my time chasing it. I know that as long as I do my best and work to improve consistently that my goals will be met in time.
What are your other passions?
Aside from professional development in my career and music, I enjoy cooking, being around animals, playing softball and basketball, reading, teaching/team-building, and occasionally playing a silly game on my phone.
What’s next for you?
I just transferred to a new unit in the hospital, so at the moment I’m focused on the present. There’s a lot of learning in my new position, so my goal making at this point revolves around success at work and in the orchestra. I expect that I’ll be plenty busy with that for the next year or two. Beyond that, my long term goals are to study for my Ph.D. in nursing research. I love teaching and hope to be a professor of nursing down the road. In music, I will keep working toward the goal of auditioning for a professional ensemble like the Reno Philharmonic eventually.
Our next performance, Saint-Saens “Organ” Symphony, No. 2 in C Minor, is October 2nd. UNRSO performances are free to students and children and $5 for adults. The concert proceeds benefit the orchestra toward purchasing music and equipment.