On November 5, 1984, a 19-year-old sophomore at San Francisco State University gave birth to a daughter in her dormitory. She'd concealed her pregnancy, so she wrapped the newborn in a dirty towel, put her in a box, and left her in the dorm laundry room. Before long, the baby was spotted by a student putting his clothes in a dryer. He hurried to the washer room next door and asked, "Did you know there's a baby in a box in here?" Fortunately, Esther Wannenmacher, a 21-year-old nursing student taking a course in newborn care, was washing her clothes. She swept her finger through the baby's mouth to be sure her airway was clear, but became concerned about the little girl's bluish color and ordered fellow students to call 911. "I don't really believe in luck," said Esther, now 53. "This would have to be divine intervention."
The baby was later adopted by Sam and Helene Sobol, but despite her university birth, higher education felt beyond Jillian Sobol's reach. She had dyslexia, attention deficit disorder and learning disabilities. But she persevered in life, just as she did in the first hours after her birth. Now 31, she just graduated with a bachelor's degree from San Francisco University, the same campus where she was born. She tracked down the nursing student who saved her life, and her biological father attended her graduation luncheon recently. Looking back, Jillian believes her life is a "story of hope, joy, optimism, family and San Francisco State."