Jen's PC died. All she has left is the hard drive, which contains three years worth of files. How does she get that back?
Depending on its age, the hard drive almost certainly has either an IDE or a SATA interface. Both of these are standard and easy to access.
All you need is an adapter that converts SATA or IDE to USB, which will essentially turn your old, internal drive into a temporary external one. The adapter will also need an AC power source.
The BYTECC BT-300 USB 2.0 Drive Mate makes a good choice. Nothing fancy, but it works.
Once the drive is plugged in, you can search its contents and copy the files you need.
Now for the lecture: If the hard drive had died rather than another part of the laptop, you'd be in a much more serious situation. You would have lost your photos, documents, and everything else on your PC.
You need to back up your hard drive--or at the very least the data folders--every day. The concept is simple: Never have only one copy of anything. See 7 Backup Strategies for Your Data, Multimedia, and System Files for backup options.
Altered 4/15: I corrected an error. My thanks to boden for pointing it out.