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News Thursday, May 18, 2017

Google product manager gained confidence during years as patient

Born with a right arm that did not extend below the elbow, Tal faced a childhood of frequent medical appointments. Though one might expect that Tal was unhappy about the necessity of frequent visits, she reflects on those to Shriners Hospitals for Children — Northern California with fondness and much appreciation.

“I always loved going to Shriners Hospital,” the 26-year-old Google product manager says. “As I was growing up, fittings for new arms often entailed going to the hospital regularly. I would return from a missed day at school and excitedly recount my previous day to friends. Curious as to why I enjoyed going to see doctors, a couple of friends joined me one time. After experiencing Shriners Hospital – from the stickers to the toys to the joyful atmosphere and palpable kindness – they quickly understood. They actually envied me.”

A Bay Area native, Tal received her first prosthesis at the original Northern California Shriners Hospital in San Francisco. She grew up with Shriners [Hospital] and “transitioned” to Sacramento, just as all the hospital doctors, nurses and staff did in 1997, when the hospital relocated.

“Until very recently, I couldn’t remember a part of my life when I wasn’t a Shriners’ patient,” Oppenheimer says.” ‘Graduating’ from Shriners was difficult for me. Everyone there was like a second family.”

She has stayed involved with the Northern California Shriners Hospital, joining the planning committee for Camp Winning Hands and serving as a counselor at the summer camp for children with hand differences.

Her own success story, as a student and patient, makes her Shriners Hospitals caregivers quite proud. Tal graduated from Lick-Wilmerding High School in San Francisco, and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in neurobiology at Harvard while minoring in computer science.

“I learned I can overcome a physical handicap at Shriners, and the determination I saw in people there helped me gain the confidence to come up with creative solutions to the challenges that confronted me in other areas of life as I grew older.”

You inspire us as well Tal!