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Avril Cooper & Penn State

Her interest in becoming a physician was further ignited while participating in the Health Care Connections Program through her high school, Mary Help of Christians Academy.  Her assignment was to shadow doctors and nurses at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Paterson.   She discovered how inspiring it was to interact with patients. “I found joy helping people any way I could…even if it was something as small as just giving out water to patients,” says Avril.

Dr. Tom Haring, Avril’s high school guidance counselor, noticed her determination and leadership. “It was the way she carried herself,” says Dr. Haring. “She was the perfect role model – mature, modest, and hardworking.  She took the toughest classes we offered, all while doing volunteer work.”  Avril excelled academically and was accepted into the National Honor Society. She was one of a few chosen to study for a summer at Harvard a year before she graduated high school with a 3.7 GPA.

Avril worked hard to maintain high grades at Penn State. But there were some tough times when her mother, Ernestine, unexpectedly lost her job. “She’s my inspiration,” said Avril. “She never complains. She came to the U.S. at 18 knowing no one, worked her way through college and built a career. During that year before she found a new job, she just told me everything was going to be okay.”  And it was. Avril is on track to graduate this summer 2016.

Avril remains enormously grateful to Tri-County donors.  “It would have been much harder if we had not found Tri-County. Thank you a whole lot because during high school it was hard financially and I am so grateful for the financial help.”


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