Justinn Marshall has had a love for riding horses all of her life.
Growing up on a ranch in Saco, Marshall began riding at an early age. Riding for the pure joy of it wasn't the only reason Marshall continuously climbed back in the saddle,
"I also have a competitive side," Marshall said with a chuckle.
That she did.
Marshall said that in her early days, she focused on just learning everything there was about riding a horse and being comfortable in the saddle as well.
As Marshall's skills progressed, she started competing in rodeo in her junior high days and was a member of the Youth Rodeo Association.
Marshall continued riding through her high school days in Saco and upon graduating in 2010, she enrolled at Rocky Mountain College and left her rodeo days behind her – temporarily.
"I thought I just wanted to play basketball," Marshall said. "I went to Rocky [Rocky Mountain College] and didn't.
Instead, Marshall ended up transferring to Montana Western-Dillon in her sophomore year and while sticking with basketball for another season, she also went back to the sport she truly loved.
Marshall's mother, Sue, said that Justinn's talents in rodeo were apparent at an early age.
"She had a passion for rodeo from the beginning," Sue said.
The passion showed as Justinn would be out on the family ranch two to three hours a night practicing her craft.
The time and dedication Justinn has devoted to the sport has paid off in the last couple of years. This past week, Marshall once again competed in the College National Finals Rodeo. The event was held in Casper, Wyoming and although Justinn was excited to be there, the competitor in her wasn't too pleased with her performance.
"My horse and I weren't on the same page," Justinn said. Hopefully next year I will do better and not think about it too much and do what I know I'm capable of doing."
Marshall will be a fifth-year senior next year as she completes her pursuit of a double-major in Biology and Health and Human Performances. She plans on using this major as a way into medical school and is currently studying for the entrance exam in hopes of applying to med school's in the fall.
For medical school, Justinn has her sights set on the WWAMI Regional Medical Program. The program, which encompasses the states of Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho, requires students to open up a practice upon graduation in rural areas that normally don't see adequate access to healthcare. It is this stipulation that drew the attention of Justinn.
Justinn said that there are 30 spots for Montana students and for the first 18 months of the program, she would be taking courses at University of Montana-Bozeman. After that, she would then spend six months in Seattle at the University of Washington.
In all, she expects the schooling process to last at least four years at the minimum.
If Justinn is accepted into the program, that would give her another year of eligibility, expanding her collegiate career for the next two years, something that she is excited about.
"You have to make a decision because the medical school work isn't easy, but I've heard of people doing it before so I think I can pull it off."
As for which area in the medical field she would want to pursue after completing her education, Justinn isn't exactly sure.
"I've talked to a lot of doctors," she said. "I don't think you're really sure of what area you want to go into until you learn a bit about the field first."
In the meantime, Justinn is going to continue saddling up and competing for Montana-Dillon's rodeo team, until it's time to shine in a new arena.