By Natasha Brown


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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Sunday’s Academy Awards turned into a dream come true for a University of Pennsylvania student. Claire Sliney was one of the executive producers of the short documentary “Period. End of Sentence.”

And she was there as the film won the biggest award in Hollywood.

Twenty-year-old Sliney, on the left in the black and white dress, had just done something some Hollywood stars have never done.

Credit: CBS3

“An experience that cannot be paralleled, seriously,” Sliney said.

The Penn sophomore was in high school when she and some friends started “The Pad Project,” after finding out some girls in developing countries don’t go to school while menstruating, because they don’t have access to sanitary pads.

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“And then, when it was happening, a lot of women would use rags or cloth from old clothes,” Sliney said. “In the worst-case scenario, they would use unsanitary materials like leaves, dirty rags.”

The girls raised money for a village in India to donate a machine to make low-cost pads.

Through a connection with USC film grad Rayka Zehtabchi, the project became a documentary.

The documentary won awards at multiple film festivals before it got the Oscar nomination.

Sliney said it was surreal to be inside the Dolby Theater.

“They opened up the envelope and I was grabbing my mom’s arm — probably cut off her circulation — and then they said “Period,” and it was that moment I burst up and the crowd just erupted into applause,” Sliney said.

“We just ran up onto the stage, I don’t think we were really supposed to, we were so excited,” Sliney said.

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A whirlwind night, posing with the team’s Oscar statues, and the culmination of years of work.

“We thought, what better way to try and you know, eliminate the stigma surrounding periods and invite conversation,” Sliney said.

So what’s next for Sliney? Well, this week she has midterms.

But now that millions of people have been introduced to “The Pad Project,” she’s devoting all the rest of her energy to harnessing the attention and continuing the mission.