Zechariah “Zack” Jenkins distinctly remembers the moment he knew he wanted to pursue a new career. Sitting in a bunker with mortars coming at it while deployed in the Middle East, he realized it just wasn’t what he wanted to do for the rest of his life.

Though he had just signed on for more time in the Air Force, he used his remaining years to figure out what might be next.

Thinking back to his childhood interest of becoming a doctor, Jenkins set his sights on the medical field. Trading some of his remaining time on active duty to serve in the Reserve, Jenkins began his education at a community college in Florida and then transferred to the University of Florida to compete his bachelor’s degree.

“One of the biggest risks I ever took was leaving the financial security of the military to pursue this,” Jenkins said.

His path looked a little less certain when he was denied admission to medical school the first time he applied. He wasn’t going to give up, though. After evaluating his options, Jenkins decided to move to Cleveland (where he has family) to enroll in the Post-baccalaureate Readiness Instruction for bioMedical Education (PRIME) program.

PRIME is a certificate program that helps students make their résumés more competitive to increase their chances of being accepted into medical school.

Jenkins has found value in the program and particularly enjoyed his clinical inquiry class, which introduces students to cases they may see as an intern or resident.

“It’s really awesome to see all the science classes that you’ve taken actually be applied to specific situations in medicine,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins began the program in August and will complete it this summer, at which point he will begin applying to medical schools again.

In the medical field, Jenkins said he’d most like to work with children or those who have neurological problems or brain injuries.

“That’s really where my heart is at,” he said.

Find out more about the PRIME program, but first, see how Jenkins answered this week’s five questions.

1. What new hobby would you pursue if you had more time?

I have been rock climbing a few times. I think that is the one thing I would want to pursue the most if I had more time and mountains to go to. I love it. It’s difficult, it’s fun, there’s excitement and that rush when you’re high up on the side of a cliff.

But I’ve also never learned to ski or snowboard, so I’ve always wanted to do those, and also surfing.

2. Where is your favorite spot on or near campus to work, read or study?

I like the Starbucks in Biomedical Research Building and the Tinkham Veale [University Center] because there’s lots of natural light and just the right amount of background noise. And there’s food and coffee right there waiting for you when you need it.

3. What new place would you most like to travel?

Somewhere in East Asia. Being in the military, I had the opportunity to live in England and I went all over Europe, all over America. I love experiencing other cultures.

I think probably Thailand. Thai is my favorite cuisine, so I’d want to go to Phuket or Bangkok.

4. If you could learn another language, what would you choose?

If I actually have to learn it, then it would be Spanish because I think it would be the most beneficial to know in this country. But if I could just “download” something into my brain, Mandarin because that’s probably one of the more difficult ones and a lot of the world speaks it.

5. What’s your favorite thing about Case Western Reserve?

The friends I’ve made here in the PRIME program and a few of my other classes. It’s kind of different than I expected. At a private school, you expect a bunch of preppy people, but everyone seems down to earth and relatable and very friendly.

It’s a nice little community.