WORCESTER, MASS. (WHDH) - College is a time filled with opportunities for students. For many, that means a chance to study abroad. Joelle Hanley is one of those students.
“It was very excited to take on something different,” says the junior biomedical engineering student at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
Joelle was set to spend her spring semester in Ghana, 5000 miles away from her campus in Worcester. She’d booked her flights to travel this past January, spending about $1,200 on tickets. But a health scare put her life on hold.
“I called my boyfriend kind of panicking,” she says, of a night this past November. “Something [was] wrong and I was slurring my words.” Joelle turned on the light and began to experience facial droop, a symptom of a stroke. “It really freaked me out,” she says.
Joelle went straight to the hospital, where an MRI confirmed that she had suffered a stroke. Doctor’s identified a hole in Joelle’s heart, putting her at a higher risk of developing a blood clot, which is what they say led to her stroke. Luckily, Joelle began feeling better and was discharged from the hospital after a few days. She returned to school and tried to focus on getting back to her normal life.
But doctors continued to monitor her health and told her an extended trip overseas would be out of the question for now. Joelle was disappointed but understood the potential risk.
“I’m far away from medical care where I would be in Ghana,” she says. “I’m about 12 hours or so drive away.”
So Joelle set her sights on going abroad next January, spring semester of her senior year. But when she contacted the airline to change her plans, she hit some turbulence.
“I figured with a condition like this and a medical emergency where a surgeon says that you cannot go, I would be ok,” she says.
Joelle says she provided the airline with all of the necessary documents, but the airline wouldn’t make the changes.
“I just got off the phone and cried to my mom,” Joelle says.
With nowhere else to turn, she reached out to Solve It 7.
We contacted the airline and explained Joelle’s situation. At first, they said they’d give her a voucher but said it had to be used before the end of September 2020. So we tried again, explaining Joelle’s health and her desire to take her trip next January. The company agreed to make a special dispensation to help her out.
“One morning I woke up and it was like Christmas morning!” Joelle says.
She received a voucher to cover the cost of her flight and the airline agreed to waive the deadline. Now Joelle is back at school, studying hard and on track to take her trip to Ghana next year. She’s thankful to Solve It 7 for bringing her bumpy ordeal to a smooth landing.
“It was really helpful,” Joelle says. “It took some of the stress off of having to do it myself so I would 100% tell people to reach out.”
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