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Student Life: Q&A with a Crooner

While James Kinney has only been singing “seriously” for a couple of years, he still possesses enough drive and talent to be part of a group that performed before President Barack Obama last month.

With that kind of innate aptitude and determination, imagine what he could accomplish in a health care setting. More so, just think of what he will bring to the table in the nursing profession after receiving four full years of leading-edge education from one of the country’s best BSN programs!

James recently took time out of his hectic schedule to talk about what inspires him, what sparked his interest in nursing, and where his career path might lead.

Where are you from?
I am from Eldridge, IA, a small suburb just north of Davenport. I currently live in Iowa City in a condo with my little brother, who is a freshman at UI.

When (and why) did you decide you wanted to go into nursing?
I have always been interested in health care and a career in the health sciences. I originally planned to attend a private college in Iowa to study vocal music and pre-medicine, but I received early admission to the CON here at UI as well as a scholarship through the Center for Diversity and Enrichment. I made my decision late, but it has proven to be the best decision I’ve made in my life. My mother is a nurse, and the career options paired with my desire to help people made nursing an easy choice.

Why did you choose the University of Iowa to pursue your BSN?
I chose the University of Iowa because of the prestige of the BSN program here. The CON is renowned in their ability to educate and prepare great nurses. The university is within an hour from my hometown, and my dad is an alumnus, so I feel like I’ve always been a Hawkeye.

How would you describe your educational experience (so far) here at UI?
My educational experience has been diverse, to say the least. I’ve experienced some rigorous nursing courses, but that has helped me grow as a student. I believe that facing this academic adversity will help me be a more compassionate and empathetic health care professional in the future.

Are there any particular areas of the nursing profession that have piqued your interest?
I have had my sights set on a DNP, in hopes of working as a Nurse Practitioner in the future. As far as specialties, I’ve considered Nurse Anesthesia, Family Practice, or Gerontology. My mother has worked in a nursing home facility for 15 years, and I know that Gero nurses are going to be essential with the aging population – especially in Iowa.

You recently sang in an a cappella group for President Obama during one of his visits to UI.  Describe what that experience was like?
It was really unbelievable. I was able to sing for President Obama during a visit in 2010 as well, but this experience was more memorable for me. The setting and the energy from the audience made it really easy for my group, Intersection—the all-male a cappella group here on campus—to perform. The enormous flag behind us and the bright lights from the media made the whole thing so surreal, and it was an honor for us to sing the National Anthem. We were also able to sit incredibly close to the stage for the President’s speech, which is something I will always remember.

Would you say that was the biggest singing performance of your life?
I can easily say that it was one of the biggest. As far as number of people in attendance and the overall importance of the performance, I’m not sure anything else will compare. I hope that I will be singing well into my future, but I don’t think I will find another performance of that magnitude.

[A video from President Obama’s most recent visit to campus can be found here. James Kinney is the second gentleman from the right in Intersection, the a cappella group singing the national anthem.]

Any other hobbies or interests?
Recently, I have found myself more and more interested in the Hispanic population and various health/occupational concerns that they face. Having worked for Proteus, Inc. and Dr. Ken Culp in the CON, I hope to devote more to this population in the future.

[A feature on some of Dr. Culp’s work can be found here]

What are some of your other professional interests and goals?
My mother is originally from Peru, South America, so working in a different country has always been a goal of mine. It would be amazing to travel to a less developed country and provide care for those in need. I believe that would be the perfect way to give back.

Where do you see yourself in the not too distant future?
I hope to be living in the Midwest, preferably Chicago or Des Moines, working as a nurse practitioner in a large hospital. I could also see myself with a family, and hopefully still singing in some form or another. Ideally, I will be a happy, successful, and giving health care professional.

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About UI’s College of Nursing
With a national reputation for excellence, the University of Iowa’s College of Nursing is one of the premier institutions in the country for nursing education. To learn more about its academic programs, including the BSN degree, visit

Posted On: 
Oct 8th, 2012