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Woman Graduates From School Where She Was Abandoned in Cardboard Box as a Newborn

Playing Woman Graduates From School Where She Was Abandoned in Cardboard Box as a Newborn

A woman who was abandoned as a baby in a San Franciso State University dorm in a cardboard box has graduated from that very school, 31 years later.

Read: At 67, Former Drug Dealer Becomes Oldest Columbia University Graduate

As a baby, Jillian Sobol was discovered in a building laundry room in November 1984. She was abandoned, and until recently, never knew her mother. 

Baby Jane Doe, as San Francisco residents dubbed her, was sought after by more than 20 families before being adopted by Sam and Helene Sobol, who gave her a warm and loving home with their adopted son. 

Today, Jillian is a college grad, accepting a diploma from San Francisco State, but she says, the achievement represents much more than just a college education. 

“It’s a huge part of my heart. I would sort of walk onto campus and say to myself, 'I was born to be here'" Jillian told 

The recent grad’s story is one of triumph — a journey flanked by learning disorders and uncertainty about her identity. 

Read: Famous Septuplets Graduate From High School And Reveal Their Plans For The Future

“I am so in awe that she would go back to the university where she was born and go to school there, I think that’s beyond what most of us would do, so she has overcome a lot,” Helene Sobol told 

Jillian was 16 when her adoptive mother told her the circumstances of her abandonment over a tear-drenched lunch, but it was only months ago that she opened up to the university about her story, sending a letter to San Francisco State's president, Les Wong. 

“I wanted to write the president a letter just to say, 'you know, there’s a lot of horrible stories out there, but this is a story of hope and optimism and adoption and education and learning and life,'" Sobol recounted.

While she has forged a connection with her biological father, Sobol was just recently able to make contact with her biological mother through Facebook. 

Her graduation ceremony was not only a celebration of education, but also of family — with her adoptive family, biological father,  and the student who found her, Esther Raiger, all in attendance.  

After sharing her story, Jillian has received an outpouring of support, as well as an increased motivation to support adoption.

“I want everyone to be open to adoption because I wouldn’t be anywhere if it wasn’t for this amazing woman and my dad. Everyone needs support, and I couldn’t ask for more. It’s just amazing and I want everyone to help give others that support and stay open to adoption,” Jillian told

Now, armed with a degree in Hospitality and Tourism and a definitive knowledge of her identity, Sobol is ready to take on the world. 

"I just sort of jump in with my whole heart and I’m just sort of still processing my last few years, but the fact that I was able to touch so many people is heart-warming and just emotional. I’m very grateful," she said.

Watch: Teen With Cerebral Palsy Walks For First Time To Receive High School Diploma


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