By Bridget Walsh
Imagine being born with not just one birth defect, but two, then being put up for adoption and having to patiently wait to find a family.
Jen Bricker was born without legs and with her heart on the opposite side of her chest. She was given up by her biological parents because they did not believe they could raise a child with two difficult defects. Eventually, by several signs her adoptive parents received, Bricker joined a loving family that accepted her for all that she is. Throughout her life, Bricker’s message was to “never say ‘can’t.’”
Not only nationally, but also internationally, she shares her experiences and stories with attentive audiences to reiterate that anything is possible with patience and the right mindset.
“I think patience is woven through my story and my life in different ways,” Bricker said. “I think it just comes out naturally when I tell a story about my childhood and adoption and sports and meeting my sisters and that whole journey.”
Because she was raised with a strong sense of community and the idea that she could be completely independent rather than codependent, Bricker figured out how to think outside the box and make the necessary adjustments to achieve whatever she wanted. This ranged in various athletics, from roller skating and eventually to aerial gymnastics.
As she progressed in her gymnastics career, Bricker was drawn to Dominique Moceanu, a famous gymnast who was extremely talented, had the same ethnicity and similar physical features. One day, Bricker researched her biological family and discovered that Moceanu was her sister and that she had another sister, Christina, who could pass as her twin. After patiently waiting for a response, Bricker finally connected with her biological family, Jen Bricker addresses students on the trait of patienceadding to an already strong and loving support system.
Bricker came to DeSales as part of the Character U keynote series. Each month, Character U aims to highlight the Golden Counsels of St. Francis de Sales, that is, patience, perseverance, love, hope, trust and cooperation and forgiveness.
“Our keynotes come in and just give a real world example of something they might’ve gone through that touches on [the Counsels],” said Chad Serfass, director for DeSales Experience in Character and Leadership “I think this being the first time that she’s here energized the first-year students to come back for other keynotes. We’ve had the same lineup for a couple of years now, so this switches it up a little bit, which is nice. I think it will hopefully energize the campus for our upcoming speakers.”
After she addressed an overfilled room of anxious students and faculty, Bricker reflected on her connection with her audiences, specifically those in the Commonwealth Room of the University Center, and how she enjoys the unique experiences each audience gives her.
“I’m always blessed by the audience more than you could think or predict,” Bricker said. “People just giving their time and attention as a speaker, you feel that.”
Her closing remarks challenged the audience to use their talents and abilities that they were given. Everyone’s talents are equal, and everyone is making an impact whether it is known or not.