Brenau University student Jenna Schardt was set to graduate in December.
That was before the seizures. Before doctors found a mass on her brain. Before she livestreamed her own brain surgery while awake.
She doesn’t yet have her master’s degree in occupational therapy.
But she did have advice for her classmates graduating Dec. 13.
“Today, take in this moment,” Schardt said. “And when life does happen, because it will happen, just say to yourself, ‘The comeback is always stronger than the setback.’ Don’t ever give up.”
Schardt began having the seizures in September, and doctors later found she had a golf ball-sized benign mass on the left lobe of her brain.
“Looking back, when I woke up on that morning of Sept. 26, I thought it was just going to be a normal day,” Schardt told the students at winter commencement. “Oh, how my perspective has changed ever since.
“I’m a planner, and I thought I had my whole life figured out for the next few months … My next steps went from finishing field work and graduating in December, to just making it through each day.”
She underwent surgery at Methodist Dallas Medical Center in Texas and livestreamed it to raise awareness and educate viewers, becoming the first person to livestream an awake brain surgery on Facebook.
She is now undergoing therapy, according to a recent Facebook post from Schardt.
She encouraged her classmates to stick to their courses, even when huge obstacles like brain surgery get in the way, and reminded them to live each day to its fullest.