Q&A: Jenelle Marie Davis
Jenelle Marie Davis is the founder of TheSTDProject.com, the STD expert for Answers.com, a Hepatitis C expert for HepatitisC.net, the spokesperson for PositiveSingles.com, and an adjunct professor at Grand Rapids Community College.
Davis also tri-chairs the Communications Action Group for the National Coalition for Sexual Health, and she is a member of the International Union Against Sexually Transmitted Diseases, the American Sexually Transmitted Diseases Association, the National Viral Hepatitis Roundtable, and the National Coalition of STD Directors.
Her work has been featured in The Washington Post, Cosmopolitan Magazine, Jezebel, Forbes, HuffPost Live, NPR, Mother Jones, Refinery 29, The Daily Mail, Bustle and many more.
Biggest career break?
Is it strange or ungrateful to say that I don’t think I’ve had one, pivotal career break? Rather, my and The STD Project’s success is the product of a lot of hard work and a series of small accomplishments.
Being a (Grand Rapids Business Journal) 40 Under Forty honoree this year — with my parents and my uncle by my side — was probably my proudest moment to date… Specifically, it speaks to the power of perseverance. Nationally, The STD Project had already won awards and been featured in a myriad of press and publications, but to be acknowledged for my work by the community I both love and in which I was raised was more powerful than even the largest of media recognitions.
Best advice you’ve ever gotten?
An abridged version of the Holstee Manifesto: This is your life. Do what you love, and do it often. If you don’t like something, change it. Open your mind, arms and heart to new things and people; we are united in our differences. Life is about the people you meet and the things you create with them. So go out and start creating. Live your dream, and share your passion.
How did you make your first dollar?
As a “cart-kid” at Saskatoon Golf Course
Most treasured possession?
The quilts, decorations and towels my grandmother and her sister sewed, crocheted and embroidered — they have both passed away, and the presence of those items reminds me of my childhood, the impermanence of any given time period, and why we should treasure each and every moment with our loved ones.
Anthony Bourdain’s job — getting paid to (in random order) eat, travel, meet new people, drink, learn about other cultures, and push the envelope just enough to keep the networks on their toes.
If I were President for a day, I would …?
Require an extensive aftercare program for retiring military veterans; implement a free universal health care system; mandate comprehensive sexual health education for grades 7-12; establish a re-entry program for non-violent drug offenders; and I’d remove all processed junk food from public school lunches, replacing it with freshly-cooked, locally-sourced ingredients. Is that overly ambitious for a day?
Last book you’ve read?
Presently, I’m reading three books: “Catherine The Great: Portrait of a Woman,” by Robert K. Massie; “How to Break Up with Anyone: Letting Go of Friends, Family, and Everyone In-Between,” by Jayme Waxman; and “Tiny, Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar,” by Cheryl Strayed.
Last thing you Googled?
The definition for innate and heteronormative — to make sure I was using them correctly in a sentence.
Your worst habit?
I’m too critical of myself
To unwind, I like to …?
Spend time outdoors — camping, snowshoeing, hiking, skiing, kayaking, growing things, running through sprinklers and building sand castles.
Thanksgiving side dishes
Person you most admire?