"At the end of high school and going to Penn, she was the happiest girl on the planet. It was easy for her in high school," James Holleran said.
"There was a lot more pressure in the classroom at Penn. She wasn't normal, happy Madison. Now she had worries and stress," her father said.
Last December, she told her parents about her suicidal thoughts, her father said.
"She had lost confidence in academics and she also lost confidence in her track abilities," he said. They discussed her need to see a therapist and possibly transferring from Penn.
A spokesman for Penn did not have an immediate reaction to the Post story and referred The Inquirer to a statement issued by university president Amy Gutmann.
"The entire Penn community is deeply saddened by the death of Madison Holleran. She was bright and well liked with an incredible future ahead of her. There are simply no words that can properly convey the sense of heartache that we all feel at such a tragic loss," Gutmann said.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends at this very difficult time," she said, adding that the university would reach out to provide counseling and support to those who knew the freshman.
Her popularity isn't in doubt. On Facebook, Holleran had 3,889 friends. Her social media accounts are loaded with photos of the attractive young woman, always smiling.
On the roof of the parking garage, Holleran left her parents a note and gifts for her family, her father said.
He told the Post that he was not blaming the university in her death, but was sharing the story as a cautionary tale.
A candlelight vigil was scheduled Monday night at Northern Highlands Regional High School in her hometown of Allendale, Bergen County.
It was at Northern Highlands where Holleran skyrocketed as a soccer and track-and-field star. She was named to the Newark Star-Ledger's all-state girls track team in 2013. She was one of two girls named by the Bergen Record as Indoor Track Athlete of the Year.
Holleran's Funeral Mass was scheduled for noon Tuesday at Guardian Angel Church in Allendale. Her family suggested donations to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, 120 Wall St., 29th Floor, New York, N.Y. 10005.