A Trinity Student’s Inspiring Journey to Hope and Healing
Recent fall 2022 graduate Jenae Henao set out to have a regular college journey like any other, but what lay ahead was a far different picture than she had ever imagined.
Jenae was diagnosed with epilepsy in 2012 after seizures came out of nowhere and rounds of testing offered no explanation. While doctors tried for years to determine the root cause of her seizures, there were no answers, and she continued to suffer.
She recalls her time in high school, being part of a prestigious accelerated program but dealing with regular seizures in the classroom. The lack of empathy and caring from teachers and staff affected her schooling and her mental health. Yet through adversity, she always persisted and began doing schoolwork from home and putting in extra effort to keep ahead of her peers.
In November 2019, after a detailed MRI, doctors discovered a build-up of scar tissue on her brain’s right side. Jenae now had answers to the questions that had plagued her for years. The options for treatment varied far and wide, but the healing journey began.
During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Jenae was excited to start at Trinity Christian College. However, her college experience started online, and once again, she was learning from home, as she had become accustomed to doing in high school.
During this time, doctors tried new medicines and therapy to alleviate the seizures, but nothing worked. Finally, in June 2021, during a hospital stay to monitor her seizures, the doctors decided it was time to do surgery. On August 19, 2021, Jenae had a right temporal lobectomy in which they removed the part of the brain with scar tissue. Doctors told her the recovery time would be six months, but she knew she had to start classes in ten days, and nothing would stop her from doing that. So, true to her word, she began her college classes, once again online, at the start of the 2021-2022 semester.
Even though this start to her classes was more difficult, the distraction was what she needed to keep going. While she did most of her classes online when everyone else had returned to campus, she could bond with students on social media and make connections she didn’t think were possible. She found grace and fellowship in the most unlikely places. She recalls students who would facetime her during group projects or classes to keep her a part of what was happening on campus.
Jenae was drawn to Trinity by the small class size and the community’s loving nature. Professors at Trinity were the opposite of what she experienced in high school; here, they cared and were willing to offer her options to ensure her success in college. She recalls how Dr. Mario Guzman and Dr. Lenore Knight-Johnson went out of their way to ensure she was successful.
Jenae talks openly about how she has grown spiritually during her time at Trinity and through the trials that life has brought her. She identifies with the story in Luke 8, where the woman suffered for years and found healing through the touch of Jesus. “I found that same healing and know God still offers that same healing to people like me today,” said Jenae.
While her path at Trinity started with pursuing a nursing degree, she changed course and found a passion for going into the field that offered her the greatest support over the years – working with children and their mental health. Jenae graduated in December 2022 with a psychology major and a social work minor. In January 2023, she began classes to complete her master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Trinity. “I’m actually on campus now for my classes, and it feels great to be a part of the community in person, making new friends and building relationships from my online time at Trinity,” Jenae remarked.
Jenae’s health is progressing well. She recently celebrated one year of being seizure free and looks forward to continuing the journey to total health and healing.