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No guarantees, a lot of desire
Germanna Community College student body president perseveres despite severe health challenges

 Germanna Student Government Association President Jenny Stone works on a pastel of her son Daniel as fellow student Jodie Clowes looks on during a recent drawing class at GCC's Spotsylvania County campus.
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Date published: 12/20/2012


After two bouts with cancer, a massive heart attack, quadruple bypass surgery and three additional heart attacks, 40-year-old Jenny Stone has stared down her mortality.

"I realize tomorrow is not promised," she said. And with that fact ever-present, she's chosen to make the most of her time by going after her goals with determination.

"It's get up and go or sit down and die," said Stone, who lives in the Falmouth area of Stafford County.

"I want people to understand, when they have tragedies in their life, you can take them and get back up and have them as your reason for life."

Stone ran a catering business and relished the work, but the heart attack in 2008 that led to her bypass surgery put an end to that career.

Her doctor said the long hours and the heavy lifting the job entailed were too much for her heart.

That's what led Stone to chart a new course.

She enrolled in Germanna Community College three semesters ago and is now working to become a counselor so she can make a difference in others' lives.

She has overcome the initial fears and feelings of awkwardness that came with returning to school after two decades and now proclaims herself a "geek head," inseparable from her iPod, Kindle, laptop and cell phone.

When she started taking classes in August 2011, she discovered her instructors were close to her age, which helped ease the transition.

But she so successfully acclimated to college life that her classmates elected her Student Government Association president this year. She now interacts with every student group on Germanna's Fredericksburg Area Campus, which is off U.S. 17 in Spotsylvania County.

But with two sons the age of most of other students, she has had to rein in her instincts.

"As SGA president, it's been an even bigger challenge for me to be SGA president and not SGA mom," she said.

That maternal role isn't taking a back seat in every arena, however.

Before she went for open-heart surgery four years ago, Stone sat with her then-teenage sons to share her dreams for them, knowing she might never get another chance.

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INSPIRATION is an occasional series about people who encourage others with their kindness, courage or perseverance.