St. Norbert College student graduates after battling epilepsy

DE PERE, Wis. (WBAY) -- Action 2 News first introduced you to St. Norbert College student Joey Rubin in November. Rubin overcame the odds, he's celebrating college graduation on Sunday after battling epilepsy and losing his short term memory.

Joey Rubin hugs a St. Norbert College faculty member on stage, diploma in hand

After Joey had a seizure in high school, doctors removed part of his brain, leaving him with short term memory loss. Two years into college Joey had to undergo two more life-saving brain surgeries, after his seizures came back.

He says perseverance got him through school.

"Not many epileptics get into college let alone graduating from college, I started here and it did take me six years yes but I'm finishing here and I'm accepting my degree and that is the biggest thing," said Rubin.

Those six years at St. Norbert earned him a nickname, many saying they'll miss his sense of humor and infectious personality.

"I'm an old geezer around these parts now, some people here call me 'Uncle Joe' and next year was going to call me 'Grandpa Joe' if I had to come back, but thank God I'm graduating now because ‘Grandpa Joe' isn’t going to happen for a while," said Rubin as he laughed.

"We are going to miss him terribly, you know he has been such a huge impact on our campus partly because he's been here six years, but also because of who he is," said Jay Fostner, Vice President for Mission and Student Affairs at St. Norbert College.

Joey says many of his classmates see today as a sad day, because their college days are over, but for Joey, graduating marks the beginning of an exciting journey in his life.

"A lot of people say they're scared and a lot of people say it's going to be boring and sad but honestly if we're getting a job and making our own money, that's the biggest thing of all," Rubin says.

Joey’s battle with epilepsy never stopped him. After losing his short term memory, Joey studied eight days before tests and used jokes to help remember names and vocabulary.

Joey also raised awareness and thousands of dollars for children with epilepsy through the college's ‘Dance Marathon’ event.

"Joey has a special place in so many of our hearts just because we journeyed with him through his challenges, and to see that he overcame them and he's successful and graduating today is, it's just phenomenal," said Fostner.

Joey's goal after graduation is to inspire those with epilepsy, raise awareness and find a career in sports media.

"If you are an epileptic, things will change, work hard, work as hard as you can and tell the people that say you can’t, that you will," said Rubin.