Jillian Sobol just graduated from the very same school where she was born.
Sobol, 31, had a tragic start to life when her biological mother gave birth to her on the San Francisco State University campus in 1984, threw the placenta down a trash chute and left her daughter in a cardboard box in a dormitory laundry room, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. After three hours, Esther Wannenmacher, then a 21-year-old nursing student who is now Esther Raiger, helped call an ambulance and bring Sobol to the hospital, where she was later adopted.
More than 30 years later, Esther Raiger got to watch the baby she’d helped save graduate from the same school where she found her. The full-circle narrative sparked hope in those who’d followed Sobol’s story, but also in Sobol herself. “Hope is the thing I believe my mother had when she made her choice. I’m here today making my own choices,” Sobol wrote in a letter to San Francisco State University President Les Wong.
Sobol also talked about her birth mother’s role in this accomplishment: “The biggest thing I needed her to know was that I didn’t hate her,” she told the Chronicle. “I wrote her a letter to thank her for giving me the gift of life. And letting her know I was going to [San Francisco] State, and that I had grown up with a wonderful family. And that I hoped to open the lines of communication.”