By RAY QUIROGA
South Padre Parade
Did you know that Musca Domestic is the scientific name for the common housefly? Or that Entomology is the study of insects. Horseflies, for example, have tiny razor sharp teeth that actually scoop a small chunk of flesh when they bite.
Insight like this rolled off of Jenna Grado’s tongue whenever a fly or insect crossed our path as we sat outdoors during the South Padre Parade’s conversation with her.
It wasn’t necessarily what you’d expect from a young lady who can sport a bikini like she can, but the truth is this swim coach for the McAllen Swim Club and a personal trainer at Gold’s Gym in McAllen, attended Bowling Green State University in Ohio, where she graduated with a Bachelors degree in Biology and Minored in Science.
In essence, Jenna Marie Grado is a bit of a bookworm. And yes, I guess you can say she’s a bit of a nerd, a term she can embrace now, but while attending Weslaco High, where she graduated from in 2003, being labeled a nerd wasn’t so pleasant. Athletic, attractive, and smart, didn’t necessarily make her the most popular girl on campus. Instead, she was bullied; and to this day, Jenna admits that her high school career didn’t leave her with many fond memories, but it did make her a stronger person and provided her with the will to succeed.
“Do you know what those bullies are doing now?” she was asked. “Nothing,” we both answered simultaneously, with a laugh.
If Jenna had to describe herself in one word that word would be “capricious.” “It’s not exactly my most flattering trait, but ironically it is the most unwavering,” she said. “My passion and curiosity for life have acted as the inspiration for my spontaneity; they have allowed me to experience life as a boundless playground. I have always indulged all of my interests; the way I see it, we have one chance to get it right, so why leave room for regret?”
While at Bowling Green she studied Phycology, which is the study of algae; and focused her studies on diatoms. Her research allowed her to travel to places like Tennessee and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where I was awarded an internship at the University of Michigan Biological Station. Although she enjoyed the scholastic opportunities she had been awarded, she’s always had an interest in traveling, so in the summer of 2005 she boarded a plane to Australia with International Student Volunteers, a group that offers students the opportunity to experience the culture and beauty of other countries all while giving back. For a month she volunteered in “The Land Down Under.”
Besides being capricious, the one other thing that she finds as always being a constant in her life has been health and fitness. “I have been a swimmer for as long as I can remember, I have always found swimming therapeutic and calming. There is something about being able to control your body in a substance that can not only give life but also take it that makes one feel extremely powerful and safe. Actually, I was on my way to finishing my masters when I landed a job as a swim instructor at Gold’s Gym… What can I say? I fell in love.”
Jenna plans on finishing her Masters in the field of Physical Therapy. “For now, I am content with improving the speed and agility of all of my clients and of the kids on my swim team,” she said.
Editor’s note: The Parade would like to acknowlege Craig and Jan Behm for lending us their beautiful Harley for this shoot with Jenna. One of the best perks about this job is that it provides us with the opportunity to meet wonderful people and Craig and Jan are truly great Islanders!