Tara Troy

Three years ago, while on college break back home in Maine, Tara Troy went to the hospital twice. Both times she was diagnosed with the flu. Two weeks later, feeling better, she returned to Connecticut to begin her last semester at the University of Hartford.

But then she had amnesia, her heart began beating abnormally fast and she coughed up blood. In the emergency room, Tara was diagnosed with pneumonia, a heart murmur and endocarditis (a heart disease caused by an infection in the blood).

A virus had settled on her heart's mitral valve, and Tara needed emergency open-heart surgery. Ten days after her successful valve replacement, Tara returned to college and finished her senior year, graduating cum laude. Today, Tara is the annual fund program coordinator at Trinity College.