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Bucking the Odds

At a panel discussion titled "Against All Odds: Using Adversity as a Stepping Stone to Success," several current and former Penn students gratefully -- and movingly -- recounted the aid given by the Trustees' Council of Penn Women during times of great personal crisis. Colleen Walsh, a College junior, has received two emergency grants from the council. A year and a half ago, as a second-semester freshman, she suffered a stroke as a result of a blood clot that passed through a hole in her heart and traveled to her brain. She had open heart surgery to fix the hole, but could not work for the summer after her freshman year. Since her mother was also very ill, she did not have the money to return to school. She found out about the council when she sent an e-mail to a friend asking for help.
   Nikki Huberfeld's father died suddenly from a brain-stem stroke in her junior year. She was without money or medical insurance when the council discovered her, providing a grant that enabled her to stay at school until her graduation.
   "It was unreal," said Huberfeld, C'95. "In this scrolling maelstrom of problems and pain and loss, all of a sudden, there was this shining bright light and nothing can compare."

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Copyright 1997 The Pennsylvania Gazette Last modified 12/11/97