Top student learns important lesson from setback

All it took was the wrenching of a knee and the tearing of a ligament to completely change how Abby Whalen finished her junior year.

Instead of running track for Roncalli High School, she was restricted to moving on crutches. She navigated surgery and rehabilitation while trying to keep up with her studies.

She was cranky, sore and exhausted. But she learned an important lesson about dealing with adversity, she said.

“It was a really big challenge to remain focused on my work, when I was just feeling down,” she said. “But it also helped me realize that my grades didn’t have to be perfect because, frankly, that wasn’t going to happen with the work I had to make up. So it helped me relax more about that.”

Instead of using the setback as an

The Whalen File

Name: Abby Whalen

Age: 18

Parents: Rob and Liz Whalen

Residence: Center Grove area

College plans: Attend the University of Notre Dame, with plans to study neurology and Arabic

Career goals: Would like to work in an international public health role, possibly with a program such as Doctors Without Borders

Ryan Trares is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at or 317-736-2727.