Herron wants this job in the future, but she struggles with her family thinking differently, and the fact that she's a woman presents even more challenges to getting into the occupation.
Only 37 percent of prison guards are women. And even less than that stay in that position for a year or more, but Jenna is determined to be one to stay. “It makes me a little nervous because everyone in my family says I can't do it, but if it's something I really want to do, I'm pretty sure I could do good in it,” says Jenna. She knows how much she's going to have to work to become a prison guard, but she is determined to make it happen.
Even as young as 6 years old, Jenna knew what she wanted to do for a career. It wasn't until her father passed that she realized that no matter what, she was going to follow her dreams to become a prison guard. “My dad worked there (at the Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution) and ever since then, it's been something I've wanted to pursue,”says Jenna. She wants to honor her father and follow in his footsteps.
Jenna's mom, Kim Herron, is proud of her daughter and the route she's taking in the world. But she also knows how dangerous the job is and would love for her to pick a new career, but she knows that Jenna is dead set on that career. “I know the dangers behind the job, but I know it's something she's wanted to do,” said Kim Herron. Herron wants her daughter to be successful in her life, even if that means doing a job that isn't normally considered for women.
Kim knows that most women would struggle in the position of a prison guard because of the intensity, but she also knows her daughter and how she acts.“She's got that little bit of ‘need to be in control’ in her, so she can exercise that there, and it will make her more firm,” says Kim. For this job, women have to be strong-willed and very firm in who they are as a person and as a guard.
Because Jenna wants to be a prison guard, she is going to go to college when she graduates high school so she can get a Criminal Justice degree. “For females, it's better to get a Criminal Justice Degree, so you can you get a better position instead of a desk job,” said Jenna. Since most women are not prison guards, women have more of a chance of becoming one if they get a criminal justice degree.
Jenna plans on getting her degree and getting a job after she turns 21 because the prison won't let applicants apply until they reach that age. After she applies, she plans on working in Pendleton for a couple of years before moving to Arizona where a majority of her family is living.
Jenna knows what she wants and is going for it, and she's having fun in the process. She's excited for her future and what it holds for her as a prison guard. Jenna can’t wait to prove her family wrong.