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Wednesday, June 26, 2024

18-Year-Old Black Student From Georgia Dies Weeks After Collapsing at Graduation

Sienna Stewart

Nationwide — Sienna Stewart, an 18-year-old African American student from Hiram, Georgia died two weeks after her high school graduation. She collapsed during her graduation ceremony, a moment captured in a video that has since circulated widely.

Sienna’s mother, Saevon Chum, said her daughter displayed remarkable courage and determination at the graduation event despite facing health challenges, according to Fox 5 Atlanta.

“She kept smiling,” Chum recalled, watching a video of Sienna walking onstage. “Seeing her smile meant everything to me.”

On May 23, during the graduation ceremony, Sienna collapsed suddenly, causing the event to pause abruptly. School staff called for medical assistance and Sienna regained consciousness shortly after.

“When I got there, the ambulance was already there. She had collapsed. She had had another episode. But this was the first time she collapsed unconscious,” Chum recounted tearfully.

Despite urging from paramedics and her mother to go to the hospital, Sienna was determined to cross the stage and receive her diploma. And she was able to do it without assistance.

“All she could tell me is, ‘I just want to graduate, I want to walk.’ That’s all she wanted, because she already missed her prom, because before then she was in the hospital and missed her senior prom,” Chum said.

Since she was 4 years old, Sienna had battled severe cardiomyopathy. Sienna underwent a life-saving heart transplant at age 8, granting her a decade of relative normalcy until complications resurfaced this April, leading to heart failure.

Although there were initial signs of recovery, sadly, Sienna died on June 12.

“They asked if I’d known that she’d had a sick heart for a while. I say ‘yes,’ but you know, you’re never going to be ready to lose your child,” Chum said.

Chum reflected on Sienna’s strength throughout her life, emphasizing, “As a mom, you feel so proud because she just fought through something that hurts her. You have to be proud. Till the end, I was proud.”