Alumna Follows Passion from Coast to Coast

Dr. Jenna Tosh, ’04, ’08, ’14, says her master degree in political science from UCF prepared her for her Ph.D. program in public affairs in more ways than one.

 Now, after working for Planned Parenthood of Greater Orlando for eight years, Dr. Tosh has moved to the west coast. She currently serves as president & CEO of Planned Parenthood of Santa Barbara, Ventura & San Luis Obispo counties and also oversees Planned Parenthood Action Fund for those counties. Planned Parenthood is a $15m organization with about 130 staff that oversees 37,000 patients each year in central California, and the Planned Parenthood Action Fund is an ancillary 501(C)4 organization that works on political advocacy related to Planned Parenthood’s mission.

Dr. Tosh encourages students and alumni to strive to make a difference on issues they are passionate about.

Put yourself out there on an issue that you care about. Volunteer, serve on a board of directors, submit letters to the editor, attend community meetings, and lobby your elected officials. When you focus your energy on making a difference, rather than advancing your career, you’re likely to find that success will follow naturally.”

 Dr. Tosh shared more about her time at UCF and her current positon at Planned Parenthood.

Why did you choose to attend UCF?

 I both wanted and needed to work full-time following graduation from college. At UCF, I was able to hold a day job and go to school at night. Orlando is a great place to live for young professionals.

How has your UCF degree helped you in your career?

 UCF’s MA in Political Science provides a solid foundation in statistical analysis. I felt very well-prepared in my Ph.D. program because I already had exposure to advanced statistics and analytics using SPSS. I also think UCF helped me find my own voice with regard to preparing written materials and giving presentations.

Were you involved in any extracurricular activities at UCF?

 I founded the UCF National Organization for Women chapter at UCF while I was serving as President of the Orlando group.

Have you stayed involved with UCF since graduation? If so, how?

After completing the UCF master MA in political science, I entered the Ph.D. program in public affairs through the UCF College of Health & Public Affairs. I successfully defended my dissertation in December and will graduate in spring of 2015. I have also gone to the past two Homecoming games at Bright House Networks Stadium. They are a lot of fun!

What is your best UCF memory?

 Being called “Dr. Tosh” for the first time following my dissertation defense.

What is your favorite thing about your job?

 My favorite thing about my job is having the ability to make a meaningful impact on the lives of the women and men who rely on Planned Parenthood for high quality, affordable healthcare.

What is your most memorable experience on the job?

 Very early in my career, I worked briefly as a social worker. Working with teen mothers in very difficult circumstances helped me understand the critical importance of providing young people with high-quality sex education and contraception. Although a lot of time has passed since then, I think of those families often, and always want to be sure that the services we provide at Planned Parenthood and the policies that we advocate for will help improve the lives of the people who need us.

Dr. Tosh shared some more about herself in our ‘get to know you’ portion of the spotlight.

What do you do for fun?

 I spend time with my 5 year-old son, my husband, and our two dogs. Now that I’m living in California, I’m enjoying hiking, the beach and wine tasting.

Do you play an instrument?

 I played piano and flute growing up, but not anymore.

What is your biggest pet peeve?

 I waited tables in college, so one of my biggest pet peeves is when people don’t tip well. Tip your servers!

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