Senita Scholars Background
In December 2020, we announced the winners of our inaugural ‘Senita Scholarship’ aimed at supporting students living with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D). The outpouring of incredible applications and interest was tremendous and through those applications we had the pleasure of getting to know over 70 astounding individuals.
Initially, we set out to award two recipients. The decision proved too difficult and therefore, we provided a small award to a third recipient as well. This was all made possible by the unbelievable support of each one of you who purchased and supported Senita and specifically, the Senita Scholars collection in November. Furthermore, thank you to each applicant who shared your stories and sentiments with us. It was incredibly inspiring, motivating and educational – and may have caused more happy tears than we would like to admit. We wish every single one of you the best in all of your future endeavors.
With each of their blessings, we wanted to share portions of our recipients’ - Alexa, Emmy and Liz’s – stories. Our hope is to highlight these incredible individuals, across three separate blog posts, and to give you the opportunity to get to know them, their tremendous accomplishments, respective journeys with T1D and motivations behind applying for the scholarship. Furthermore, our greatest hope, and the hope of each of these recipients, is to continue to raise awareness and support individuals living with T1D.
So without further ado, let me introduce you to one of our incredible Senita Scholars, Alexa!
Alexa is an incredibly resilient and motivated individual who has been faced with several significant challenges in life. As of December 5th 2020, Alexa achieved 8 years clean, no drugs, no alcohol and 7 years without smoking. She has participated tirelessly as a volunteer within NA, Narcotics Anonymous, ensuring she prioritizes giving back to those facing the same challenges she has so bravely faced. In the words of her recommender, “I have watched Alexa grow and challenge herself on every level, mentally, physically and emotionally. She has faced and repaired damages from her past. She has confronted health and diet challenges. She is successfully parenting a teenage daughter on her own. She continues to work an active program of recovery, and now she has gone back to school to achieve her college degree. Throughout all these things she also deals with managing Type 1 diabetes every day. Her willingness to keep working toward her goals no matter what the challenge, has inspired a deep level of respect and a great love in me for this remarkable woman.” It is clear to us that Alexa is incredibly humble, willing to put in the work for herself and others, patient, kind, appreciative, and lives with a sense of humor and candid personality that can make any of us smile.
Life with T1D
Alexa was diagnosed with T1D when pregnant leading to a high-risk pregnancy with her daughter. She has lived through diabetes further complicated by addiction and multiple visits to the ICU because she needed to ration insulin due to a lack of health insurance. She’s battled being told if she kept doing what she was doing she wouldn’t make it to 30 and astronomical hospital bills and medication prices that haunt too many individuals living with Type 1.
In her words, “There are many sleepless nights because my blood sugar is too high or too low and then trying to function the next day like everything is ok is exhausting. The challenges with diabetes seem to be endless especially in school, but I choose to take them as learning experiences. There is nothing easy about diabetes, and generally none of it ever makes sense. I can eat the same meal two days in a row, one day my blood sugar is on target then next day crazy high will not come down, and I had not changed anything in the meal. Welcome to the insanity of Type 1 Diabetes, not to mention monthly hormonal cycles that also make me insulin resistant or incredibly insulin sensitive. Whether it’s the misinformation about the disease and deciding whether or not it's worth educating people about it, trying to find a decent doctor, let alone all the blood sugar checks throughout the day. Every day is challenging, some days are better than others.”
Thankfully, Alexa is beyond resilient and she chooses to see, and work for, the best in every possible situation. She shared, “I have worked very hard to learn how to work with my diabetes rather than trying “control” it. I have spent many hours working with my doctors, diabetes educators and hours and hours of research on my own to better understand this disease and how it works in my body. I have found that the more knowledge I have about it the less scary it seems. I have helped my anatomy professor educate about Type 1 Diabetes in class. I can only take it one day at a time, one site at a time, one blood sugar check at a time. My blood sugar is no longer a mortality check, but how I can live better every day.”
Alexa’s desire to give back to others has led her to persevere through everything she’s faced in her personal life to now focus on studying nursing. As her recommender shared, “I believe her experiences as a person in recovery and a Type 1 Diabetic combined with her sense of humor and drive for growth will make her an exceptional nurse.”
Alexa shared, “One thing I love about being in school for nursing, is that I get to help people who are going into the medical field understand more about T1D than they might learn from a class. In class I show them how I check my blood sugar, how I change my sites for my insulin pump, in no way am I ashamed of diabetes, is it hard, every day, it is worth it when people gain a better understanding because I took the time to educate them, every single time. Diabetes is no longer a death sentence, but every time I check my blood sugar, that number reminds me of my mortality.” We cannot wait to see where Alexa’s ambitions and nursing career will take her. We know that every life hurdle she has faced so bravely will only serve to benefit any and every person she comes into contact with, especially her future patients.
We hope you enjoyed getting to know Alexa and her journey through this blog post as much as we did through her application and over Zoom! Please stay tuned for the introduction of our other two winners in the next two weeks!