Mary Louise Groda was a lonely and poor child, from a family of poor farm workers in Portland, Oregon. She was in frequent trouble with juvenile authorities, partly because she hated to go to school.
After a number of breaks from juvenile authorities, Mary's good luck ran out. She and another troubled male teen got caught while they were joy-riding with a stolen car that they crashed. That joy-ride and the subsequent crash were enough for the judge hearing Groda's case, who had no choice but to incarcerate Mary.
A social worker took an interest in Mary, who was sixteen years of age by that time, and realized that she struggled with dyslexia. She then helped Mary excel in studies. Mary gained confidence and began to fight back against her impediment, eventually going to college, earning an M.D. degree. She chose the family practice of pediatrics as her medical specialty.