In this last post of our Senita Scholars series we're introducing our third Senita Scholar of 2020! Please see our other Senita Scholars blog posts if you'd like more information on these scholarships!
We were blown away by the tireless amounts of advocacy Liz has, and continues to, complete(d) on behalf of youth living with type one diabetes. As shared by her recommender, “Liz has taken her advocacy to Capitol Hill, where she has presented to her U.S. Senators and Congresswoman. In a meeting with the Chair of the FDA, Liz talked about the importance of clinical trials that have improved diabetes management.” Furthermore, Liz has participated in several clinical trials herself and has also created a series of videos (included below) to support children and their families when recently diagnosed.
Whether advocating on behalf of individuals with T1D, as an athlete across many sports, a top student, or a musician, it is clear that Liz is “all-in” and is a remarkable leader. Again, her recommender shares, “she has been one of our go-to seniors for her maturity, responsibility, and leadership. I admire her tremendously for the difference she is making, particularly in the juvenile diabetes community.”
Life with T1D
Liz’s journey living with T1D began when she was just 12 years old. Although feeling helpless and overwhelmed, she decided, “I would not let diabetes control me.” Immediately, Liz took this diagnosis as an opportunity to give back and help the diabetes community she had recently joined. Just two months after her diagnosis she participated in a clinical trial testing a drug to preserve beta cell function in people who had recently been diagnosed. She shares, “Despite my own physical discomfort, I knew that I was doing my part to advance diabetes research toward a cure.” Liz also spoke to the feeling of loneliness she experienced when she at first did not know anyone else with diabetes. After attending a diabetes camp and meeting others living with diabetes she began her involvement with the T1D focused foundation, JDRF.
Liz eloquently provided us a small glimpse of the frustrations and difficulty of a day in her life living with T1D, “As a student living with type 1 diabetes, the greatest challenges I face are the ones no one else can see. When my peers prepare for an exam, their biggest worry is recalling the necessary information; while I also have to keep my blood sugars in mind before the exam even begins and for the duration of the exam. While my friends can snack all they want, I have to be mindful of the foods I eat, methodically counting my carbs, carefully monitoring my blood sugar, and being conscious of the impact that the type of food I am eating has on my blood sugar. When my teammates prepare for a competition, they focus on warming up, stretching, and mentally preparing. But I have already been preparing for hours, selecting foods that will not drastically affect my blood sugar, timing when to decrease my basal insulin prior to competitions, and taking a myriad of other actions to ensure that I am at my best to perform.”
Furthermore, she sums it up best by sharing, “These invisible struggles are part of the reason many people simply do not understand diabetes, and it takes a toll. Diabetes is not just physically exhausting from the pokes and prods every day, but it is incredibly exhausting mentally.” The invisible struggles paired with the widespread amount of misinformation about the disease inspire Liz to ideate on the benefits of a widespread social media campaign to spread factual information about T1D, maybe even a reality TV show about the life of an individual living with T1D.
Liz shares, “While living with diabetes is challenging, it has allowed me to find my passion for advocacy and helping others.” A passion and ambition stemming from a challenge that life has thrown her way. Her attitude and resolve leave us truly inspired.
As a senior in high school, Liz is hoping to attend a small liberal arts college where she hopes to, “connect with people, explore my passions, and find a major that matches my interests.” She shared of her desire to continue her involvement in the diabetes community by starting a chapter of the College Diabetes Network on her campus and to seek to pursue the field of medicine.
Her recommender shared, “It is no surprise that Liz wants to study medicine; combining her love of science and her passion for helping others, medicine is a natural fit for her.” We are beyond excited to see where her future pursuits, grounded in her leadership, intellect and hard work will take her!
[Video Series Centered on Aiding Newly Diagnosed Children and Their Families]
- Kids Video:
- Parents Video:
- Professionals Video:
We hope you've enjoyed this three part series introducing our Senita Scholars recipients! Let us know what you thought and if you have any feedback for us as we thing about evolving and furthering our efforts with the Type 1 Diabetes community in the year to come!