From Murray State University
Murray State University alumna and legacy Jessica Johnston has been heating up the competition on the 35th season of CBS’s Emmy-award winning series, “Survivor.”
A Missouri native but self-proclaimed “Kentuckian,” Johnston followed in her parents’ footsteps and attended Murray State University, graduating in 2009 with her bachelor’s degree in nursing. After graduation, Johnston moved to Louisville to earn her doctorate and now works as an acute care nurse practitioner in neurosurgery at Norton Hospital — which is exactly the type of experience that earned her a spot as a “healer” on the long-running CBS reality series, whose current theme is “Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers.”
Being a thrill seeker at heart, Johnston said it was an easy decision to audition for a part on the show.
“I love adventure. I love anything that keeps me abnormal,” Johnston said. “I love to get away and try new things.”
Looking back, Johnston credits her professors at Murray State as a big part of her success as they were constantly challenging her to be the best she could be and pushing her outside her comfort zone. In fact, Johnston was encouraged by her professors to apply for very competitive doctoral programs while she was still enrolled at Murray State.
“I will never forget my professors at Murray State,” Johnston said. “The nursing program was cutthroat but the professors did their best to teach us how to excel academically and socially.”
Since leaving Murray State, Johnston said what she misses most is the community that was present all over campus. She said it was hard to leave Murray due to all the opportunities, activities and relationships that her undergraduate career afforded her.
“You will never find anything like the community at Murray State,” Johnston said.
Among all the things Johnston gained from her time at Murray State, she said the University and its nursing program played a significant role in how she prepared for and played the game as a contestant on “Survivor.”
“Nursing is a huge part of my life. When I entered that program, I not only had to learn discipline and commitment to finish the degree that I had started, but at the same time I had to learn how to be social and have friends while excelling academically,” Johnston said. “Going into ‘Survivor,’ I had all of these things that I had learned from nursing: how to be assertive and how to stand up for yourself.”
Johnston added that Murray State taught her to be goal-oriented, strategic and proactive — all tools that aided her in competition on “Survivor,” giving her a step above the other contestants.
Her advice to students currently at Murray State is to enjoy the process. Johnston said getting involved on campus, staying organized and keeping an eye on one’s goals will allow students to enjoy all aspects of college.
Aside from being a nurse practitioner, Johnston also recently launched a health and wellness fitness brand, Belovist. She has said that being a personal trainer is her other passion in life and has loved the opportunity to combine both her passions throughout her career.
Watch as Johnston competes for the $1 million prize and the title of sole survivor Wednesday nights at 8/7 Central on CBS.
Murray State University provides an “Opportunity Afforded” for more than 10,000 students through a high-quality education with experiential learning, academic and personal growth and the ability to secure a lifetime of success. The University’s main campus is located in Murray, Ky., and includes five regional campuses. For more information about Murray State University, visit murraystate.edu.
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