1, 2, 3…GO. Busy, Busy, Busy!

Well it has been a little over two weeks since I have blogged and it has been a whirlwind! Hence why I haven’t posted in a while. I have traveled, spent time with family and friends, and certainly lost much needed sleep! The week after the Fourth I was able to attend the JDRF One Walk conference with Mia and Anna. There we were able to listen in on the T1D Voices council for the afternoon, this also included Nicole Johnson, which was a delight in being able to see her! I stayed the whole afternoon and learned of concerns and other plans JDRF is involved in. IT WAS AMAZING. Once again I left there calling my parents telling them everything I had just learned, I just couldn’t hold it in. The next day I was able to go to a hearing titled 21st Century Cures: The Patient Voice, coincidentally there was a lot of conversation prior in the T1D Voices Council in regards to patient voice and quality of care, therefore I was ready to listen and learn much more! After the four hour hearing on the hill, I ran home, packed, and got in the car with my friend Jackson and began making the trek home to spend the weekend with family! Jackson and I spent the 7-hour car ride listening to stand up comedians, laughing our heads off, and belting songs out (especially Drunk in Love by Beyoncé) Arriving home was great! While I love DC and cannot wait to get back to Auburn, I could not help but think going home that weekend would be the last time until Thanksgiving! Friday night I went to my friend’s lake house with Jenna and spent the night sitting and talking, catching up with a bunch of my friends from high school. Saturday I went to the farmers market with my mom and picked up fresh vegetables and goodies for a BBQ we’d be having that night. The Toziers came over, and after, all of my friends from high school came over. We were able to have bon fire, sit and talk with my parents and enjoy everyone’s company before I left on Sunday.

Home for a weekend!

Home for a weekend!

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Jenna and I taking on Lake George while home

Jenna and I taking on Lake George while home

The next week consisted of counting down until Friday because I was going to be meeting with my mom, Mummsy, and Aunt Kim in Cape May. The week prior consisted of a hearing, and a briefing, both of which pertained to health. The weekend was GREAT! We stayed at the historic Chalfonte Hotel, which we all agreed was ‘classic’ Cape May. My family has vacationed in Cape May for twenty years, it is filled with historic buildings, a quaint downtown, beautiful beaches, and the ability to walk everywhere! After dinner on Saturday night my mom and I decided to explore the nightlife, we danced the night away!! It was great and I absolutely cannot wait to return in two weeks with the rest of my family.

 

#showmeyourpump in Cape May with Mummsy!

#showmeyourpump in Cape May with Mummsy!

Momma and I dancing the night away

Momma and I dancing the night away

This past week was just as busy! There were no hearings to go to, but I certainly wasn’t bored. Each day there was a new project to accomplish, and I was happy on Friday to finally take a break and prepare for the weekend. Friday night I went to Jazz in the Garden with some of the friends I have made here. We found a spot and sat, talked, even danced a little bit to the live jazz music. It was GREAT! We then went to get tacos for dinner at a nearby restaurant and returned to our building to continue socializing in the courtyard with everyone. On Saturday we went to the zoo! We spent the whole day walking and looking at all of the animals. I loved it! Yesterday was a quiet day, other than collecting goodies at the farmers market, I really spent the day doing laundry and recuperating from the weekend.

 

Jazz in the Garden

Jazz in the Garden

Jazz in the Garden with Abigail

Jazz in the Garden with Abigail

OWEN & Jazz in the Garden

OWEN & Jazz in the Garden

Today I was able to have lunch with the Shanahans! They live in New York and Bridget has Type 1. It is always fun seeing her and talking diabetes everything. We even took a “show me your pump” picture to support Miss Idaho 2014 who also has T1D!

#showmeyourpump

#showmeyourpump

So, I know this post was rather dry and quickly moved through three weeks of activities. But I promise there will be more posts in the coming week with interesting topics! I cannot believe there are only two weeks left to this AMAZING summer!

 

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Is This What Growing Pains Feel Like?

Hello week four! My third week was frustrating, joyful, and full of laughs. Monday I was able to lie by the pool, under the sun all day. Relaxation at its best! Monday night and Tuesday were a little different. I went for my usual run through the National Mall, did my usual post work out routine and went to sleep. I then woke up in the middle of the night very high, then dropped low, and then went high after correcting my low. As my friend put, “riding the rollercoaster”. Due to the stress on my body I slept through my alarm and woke up at 9:36. (I had to be at work at 9:30) I frantically called my supervisor, apologizing while running around my apartment trying to find an outfit for the day! Thankfully Claire was very understanding and told me to take a breath and come into work when I could. Wednesday followed with a leisure day of working with excel sheets and cutting cards for upcoming walks. Mia, Anna, and myself were let out a little early and decided to go shopping together. We spent the whole afternoon looking for outfits for the fourth and eventually found some! Later that night I attended a movie in the park with some other interns. The neighborhood I live in, NoMa puts on a movie every Wednesday. The food trucks come and everyone brings blankets, food and drinks, basically a huge get together on Wednesday nights!

We were also told that the interns didn’t have to come in on Thursday, all we had to do was take two pictures with diabetes related captions in reference to the Fourth of July. Therefore our weekend had begun! Thursday I did my picture project and sat by the pool once again. (I’m really working on my tan!)

July 4th Cupcakes with the Capitol building in the background!

July 4th Cupcakes with the Capitol building in the background!

USA USA (with glucose tabs of course)

USA USA (with glucose tabs of course)

My plans for the Fourth included snack foods and posting up at the National Mall until fire works with other interns looking to enjoy all that DC has to offer. We left around 2pm and walked until we found a spot under a tree. We spent the day sitting and eating, taking periodic walks, listening to live music and enjoying the pace of it all. My friend Owen and I took a walk to the Lincoln Memorial (it was very long) and got to see my one of my best friends. Owen was one of the first interns I met here in DC and he was very welcoming! The walk consisted of not only joking, which seems to be how our personalities mesh, but also talks on subjects with depth. Charlsie and I were random roommates freshman year and became the best of friends! Even though the visit was short, it was wonderful. The rest of the day was spent the same as the beginning of the day, we were able to watch fireworks and trekked it home to continue the celebrations on our rooftop. I think we saw at least ten other firework shows from our rooftop, it was amazing!

 

The MLK monument

The MLK monument

Charlsie and I

Charlsie and I

Owen and I at sunset!

Owen and I at sunset!

FIREWORKS

FIREWORKS

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Saturday through Monday consisted of relaxing by the pool, laundry, cleaning, and a great deal of reflection. Is this what growing feels like? I find myself creating relationships with people I never imagined I would. The friendships I have made at my internship are filled with laughs and more talks pertaining to diabetes, living in DC, roommates, and just life as twenty year olds. In addition to these friendships, I find myself becoming closer with those who I again did not expect to grow with and separate from others. While we’ve all been taught that people go different ways, when it happens it becomes reality. I do believe people come in and out of your life at the right times and for reasons that often do not make sense. You learn that depending on these people is okay, and opening up to these new relationships is even more OK. Therefore I am happily growing, continuing to start each day with an open mind ready for the events and relationships that are being offered to me at this moment.

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“This is The Hill” … “Oh”

It has been exactly two weeks since I arrived in Washington, DC and I absolutely LOVE it. This past week was a little different from the first week when it came to my internship, as I was able to go to a hearing and a briefing on the hill. Once again I never imagined I would enjoy attending hearings and such on the hill, I do not usually consider myself a political person. Tuesday was a normal day in the office, various projects and continuing our work with the One Walk Conference. On Wednesday we had a meeting with the Regulatory Team. During this meeting we were explained what the regulatory team does and were able to ask questions. Much of the meeting was about insulin, which you inhale; it is hopefully going to be approved in the near future. Since all of the interns have type one, we were all interested in hearing more. Our meeting was only an hour long, though we could have kept going for another hour, but we had a second meeting with the legislative team as more of an introduction. JDRF Advocacy is very passionate about their work; therefore they want us to learn about every team and aspect of it. Throughout the summer we will be able to meet with the different teams and get updates and gain insight to what they are doing.

On Thursday Mia, Anna, and myself were given the opportunity to attend a hearing on sexual assault on campuses. The hearing was very interesting and gave a lot of perspective on the issue. After the hearing we were not required to return to the office and decided to find a sports bar to watch the U.S. v. Germany game. While walking to the sports bar I made a comment out loud saying “well this is a nice steady hill” (it was hot and a hill was not what I wanted to be walking up) Mia replied in her very polite tone, “this is the hill” I stopped there and decided I should turn my filter back on and think before I speak! I think every other intern and worker in DC had the same idea. We watched the game with hundreds of our closest friends, standing around and cheering and even though we lost, everyone was rejoicing in the fact that we were still advancing!

On Friday we were given the opportunity to attend a briefing on the hill, the briefing was about the 2015 insurance premiums which are soon to be released. We arrived early without RSVP-ing, like many other interns and stood around waiting to see if anyone did not come who had a reservation. Anna and I were able to get in and we even got a seat at a table! (there was limited seating, and being interns you usually do not get first pick for these things) Going in I did not know what to expect. We were given a packet filled with papers and power point outlines with words and graphs I did not understand. There were four speakers, each talked for about fifteen minutes, followed by a half hour question and answer section. After the hour and a half lecture on insurance and what the providers are doing to make it better I was amazed. Everyone hears in the news how bad insurance companies are and trust me I am the first to say that dealing with them is horrible, but I learned that as consumers it is not fair to expect policies to change in one year, with flawless execution. In 2014 the ACA put new rules and regulations in place, causing insurance companies to have to change their policies. Going into 2015 they are working even harder to make it better for consumers, but there are still flaws. The companies need more data to put together plans to ensure they are making the right choices. Therefore this is a transition period, and the companies need more than a year to get it right. Basically, I walked out of the Dirksen Senate office building with a smile and a folder of knowledge, excited to call my mom to share what I had learned! Hopefully I will be able to attend more hearings and briefings on the hill, and learn more. One of my favorite parts of working at JDRF Advocacy is their push for us to learn about the city we are working in. Claire and Amanda have made it clear to look for briefings and hearings on the hill that we would want to attend as they are trying to incorporate us in what is going on, in a hands on way! I love this! Being able to leave early on certain days just to walk around and see different places, or go to the hill and listen to a hearing. I am thankful for their flexibility and empowerment to learn about this beautiful city we are living in, and not just working in.

Anna, Mia, and myself at the White House with our JDRF gear!

Anna, Mia, and myself at the White House with our JDRF gear!

Not only was my week very interesting, but also my weekend was entertaining. Friday afternoon I met up with a friend from college and her boyfriend, we had lunch and walked around the national mall. It was sweltering hot! But we did it. That night her two friends from high school joined us, we were able to grill out and enjoy a beautiful night on my rooftop.

Christina and I on the the rooftop!

Christina and I on the the rooftop!

Christina and I cooking & laughing (or crying??)

Christina and I cooking & laughing (or crying??)

On Saturday I attended the Quicken Loans National Golf Tournament in Bethesda, MD with my friend Jackson who is also interning in DC this summer. We started the day at the NoMa metro station, thinking it would be an easy metro ride to Bethesda, followed by a short taxi ride to the course we would definitely be there by 10! That was not the case; both of us forgot to check the weekend delays. The red line (our line) was under construction between many of the stops, therefore we had to ride a free shuttle to another stop then get back on the metro. Both of us could not stop laughing at the dysfunction of the travel. It was our first time on the bus, and it is not easy standing on those things! I think I almost fell over thirty times! Though Tiger didn’t make the cut, it was still very fun sitting on the tenth hole watching the other golfers play. Jackson and I shared many laughs (even though I am convinced he was laughing at me most of the time, between the traveling fiasco, to just walking and stumbling on myself, or thinking my eyes were burnt even though they were not) it was entertaining to say the least! We also walked around and watched some other holes, but the par 3 was the most fun. That night I went to dinner with my best friend Zachary, he was in the city visiting another friend from college and found time to get dinner with me! It was nice to have a little slice of home even if it was a short visit.

Saturday night was enjoyed on the roof once again, but with a different group! The Washington Center is an organization that has many interns working in the summer in DC with various companies. A few of the interns are living in my building and because I live on my own I’ve made friends with some of the people in this organization and have tons of fun hanging out with them! We have all decided to get together for the Fourth of July and enjoy fireworks at the National Mall. I cannot wait! I am starting to get the hang of living in DC and am starting to find friends and a home here! I apologize for the lack of funnies, I’m sure I will have some more come next week!

The tenth hole at the Quicken Loans National 2014

The tenth hole at the Quicken Loans National 2014

 

World War II Memorial

World War II Memorial

The Washington Monument at sunset during one of my many runs through the National Mall!

The Washington Monument at sunset during one of my many runs through the National Mall!

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You Fell Asleep?!

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Hello Sunday night, although I usually have an adverse feeling toward your approach to start a new week, I find myself happy and rather enthusiastic! Why, you might ask? Well unlike many internships, I was able to choose a day off or to work shorter days. Naturally I opted to not work Mondays, because who likes Mondays? Therefore as I prepare to sit and watch the US game in the World Cup, I know I will not have to worry about getting to bed at a decent hour or prepare for a whole new work week. Not that I do not want to start a new week, it is just Monday. As I recap this past week I would like to make it a point to express my sense of joy, being able to walk into the JDRF-Advocacy office everyday. I love being able to learn and hear about what they are doing to work towards better care and ultimately a cure. Below is a review of my very first week as a working girl! (& I promise the funniest stories are at the end so be patient!)

 

Week One:

Full of learning, working, and many many stories. Each day I arrive around 9:15 am, and much to every ones surprise my day does not actually start until 9:30am therefore I am EARLY, yes EARLY. My timing abilities have never been up to par, probably due to my upbringing and being perpetually late to everything, thank you Barnett genes (or my mothers genes, as my father would put, and likewise coming from her about him) Either way, I am early. There are three interns all together, Mia, Anna, and myself. Before starting the internship I was prepared and confident that I would succeed knowing I had diabetes and would be able to connect with the work I was doing solely because of that. I was not prepared to be surrounded by two other Type ones, and while I was prepared to share my passion with someone new who possibly did not know much about diabetes, I find it a blessing to share the disease. We are able to connect not over the fact that we have the same major (which we don’t), come from similar backgrounds, or all want to do the same thing, but that we have this relentless disease and are able to share our stories. All three of us come from different places; have different connections with JDRF, and all have different experiences with diabetes. On Thursday we were able to have lunch together, and while casual conversation held relevance for approximately ten minutes, we spent the other fifty minutes telling stories and relating with diabetes. Each morning we work together to find news clips, we are given search topics mostly pertaining to diabetes, research, medical devices, etc. We form a document and email it to everyone in the office. At the SWD conference one speaker told us to read the newspaper everyday, and look what I am doing! It definitely helps in keeping up with topics, and is certainly interesting. I never realized how many articles there are each week that are published in reference to diabetes. I was also given the project of writing Twitter and Facebook posts that were centered on diabetes stats, and certain tag lines. These posts will soon be shared on both accounts so keep a look out! The main event JDRF-Advocacy is working on is the One Walk, where executive directors and chapter presidents of chapters registered for the walk are invited to Washington for the One Walk conference. This past week I was given the detailed job of going through the One Walk excel sheet and entering every name into the JDRF data base confirming if they were an advocate and entering their address into the excel sheet. Amanda, my supervisor must’ve known what she was doing when giving me this job as it is right up my organizational, perfectionist alley! I love organizing and making sure everything is perfect, therefore excel sheets are fun. This week was described by many of the workers as ‘slow’, mostly because they are in transition. This week it is supposed to pick up, and I cannot wait to see what other projects are in store!

 

Week One, off the record:

Everyday I wake up, shower, iron my clothes, think about breakfast, lunch, and dinner, make my tea (hope I don’t spill it on myself), pack my lunch, and head out the door. While my routine is much like every other interns routine, I also have to check my blood sugar (respond accordingly), pack snacks, confirm I have enough juices for the day, AND THEN head out the door. Leaving my apartment building for the day is like leaving for a day of battle. Battling the streets of Washington, DC. To many people they seem harmless, but it takes approximately a ten-minute walk and a metro ride to bring my blood sugar to the dropping number of approximately 65. (This is the average of last week) Did I mention my pump is usually on suspended while on my way to work? I have yet to bolus for breakfast while being here. Honestly, I usually treat myself to Starbucks on my way, and once again do not bolus, using it as my low treatment. (Sorry mom and dad, but its for diabetes J) & yumma too! While everyone is hustling to get to work, I am walking about as slow as I can, trying not to expend too much energy so I can make it to work without going low. I guess this is just in the job description when having type 1 diabetes, so every morning I prepare for battle and every afternoon before making the trek home I go through the same routine. Let me tell ya, being packed in a hot, sticky 5 o’clock metro train with fifty of your closest friends AND having a low blood sugar sure makes for an interesting time.

Now anyone who has spoken to me knows that my biggest fear is falling asleep on the metro and missing my stop, getting something taken, etcetera, etcetera. Do not worry everyone, I FELL ASLEEP and MISSED MY STOP. Friday morning I was coming from a friend’s house after staying over and my metro ride was longer and not one I usually take. I fell asleep and missed my stop by four. Looking down at my phone seeing 9:22am, my stomach dropped. I was THAT person, grabbed my bags and ran out the door. Laughing uncontrollably, I brought up my metro app thinking ‘Federal Triangle?! Where the heak am I??’ Thankfully Claire and Amanda, my supervisors were flexible and understood. By the time I arrived the whole office knew, I think just about everyone came up to me asking, “how was your nap” or “you were where?” I honestly had no clue where I was, but I managed to make it in to work in a timely manner. So if any of you ever need a good laugh, just think of Hannah RUNNING out of the metro train just before the doors shut, half asleep, wondering where she was. It doesn’t stop there; today I received an email from Pat Kenney, the executive director of the Northeast New York chapter, or my home chapter for JDRF. The subject line read ‘you fell asleep?’ Not only did everyone in the Advocacy office know I fell asleep, but now the chapter office in NENY knows, jeez! Not to worry, I am sure I will be able to provide many more funnies as the summer unfolds to other parts of the United States.

 

 

Took a stroll to the white house after work one afternoon

Took a stroll to the white house after work one afternoon

5 O'clock metro traffic!

5 O’clock metro traffic!

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Selfie from my rooftop with the Capitol building in the background!

Selfie from my rooftop with the Capitol building in the background!

View from my rooftop

View from my rooftop

 

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Thank You Students with Diabetes

Well here we are, sitting up once again wondering how this summer is going to play out. Will I find the office on time? Do I keep a tally of the times I Google phrases I’m unsure of? (It’ll be a good laugh when August rolls around) Will the other interns and I get along? Do I bring my lunch? Do I change from sensible shoes to heels outside, in the lobby, in the bathroom? OR do I brave the fifteen-block stroll in my business professional heels? Aside from all of that, I ultimately wonder how I will make a difference while working with JDRF – Advocacy. The first question many people ask me is what I will be doing while working. Although this seems like a sensible question, I honestly tell them I do not know. I have always been one to have a plan, but it seems unreasonable to expect to plan for a difference when I have not experienced an opportunity like this before.

One week ago I returned home from the Students With Diabetes Leadership Academy and conference. Before attending I was constantly asking and trying to answer double the amount of questions I am now. As last weekend progressed I was given many tools and words of wisdom to take with me as I begin my endeavor in taking on Washington, D.C. The Leadership Academy began on Thursday night with a dinner (which I was running to after a six hour plane delay), we were able to get to know each other on a more casual level before settling in on Friday for speakers and what seemed to be a boring, business-like day. As Friday began, the freezing cold conference room was filled with glazed over eyes of twenty-something year olds wishing breakfast started an hour later (although breakfast became vital as the days went on). Our first topic was public health, a topic I was convinced to be dry and not one I wanted to delve into at nine in the morning. Contrary to popular belief, Dr. Donna Petersen explained it in such a way that it honestly seemed like we had a job to do. Dr. Petersen made it clear the word ‘public’ has a negative connotation, causing many people to turn their noses away; much like many government health issues, yet we as people have a responsibility to prevent and create a positive connotation to the word ‘public’. Okay, I know it may seem I have joined the public health groupies, and trust me I still need some convincing that it is a topic that would hold my interest for an extended amount of time, but Nicole Johnson’s strategic plan to put Dr. Petersen first got me and I believe everyone else hooked! Public health is not a topic one can listen to with glazed over eyes and think “O.K. I get it”, one must listen and try to understand, initiating thought and alertness in seventeen twenty-something year olds.

So, Nicole has given us our first tool, DO NOT turn your nose to something you think is boring, not for you, etc. because you truly never know. The rest of the Leadership Academy was filled with speakers such as Rick Gallegos, CEO of the Dale Carnegie Training, Martin Wood, a person who has too many titles to list but most importantly the author of the blog, Diabetically Speaking, and Tom Boyer, the government affairs head for Novo Nordisk. The next lesson we were taught was networking, networking, networking, though this seemed to be a common theme throughout the conference as a whole. The Leadership Academy was also a tool in itself, while the many speakers each brought new lessons to the table, and shared a different story that affected us differently, there was one underlying theme each speaker touched on, opportunity. It was an opportunity to be able to apply for an internship, it was an opportunity to attend the Leadership Academy, it was an opportunity to be given an internship, and most importantly, it was an opportunity to be surrounded by seventeen brilliant young adults who all shared the never ending challenge of Type 1 Diabetes.

As the Leadership Academy came to a close I was fired up, ready to take on the fun and excitement of an internship. I was given the confidence to go forth and learn and accept that although I may not know anything about government advocacy, I do know about diabetes and I was ready to use that to my full advantage. Following was the Students with Diabetes Conference, or diabetes camp for big kids, as I like to call it. We were able to relax, tell stories, and share our frustrations with each other. Something that usually gets to happen every once in a while, or once a year at SWD! There were many speakers, which provided thought provoking questions, laughs, and many emotional tears. During the conference every speaker shared a bit of knowledge worth taking home, but it would take just about the whole summer for me to explain it all, therefore the following quotes are ones that left me without questions. Ed Damiano, the creator of the bionic pancreas started his presentation with the words “making diabetes management disappear” giving everyone in the room a sense of hope. He then proceeded to state; “diabetes is relentless” another phrase that I know is true, but often wonder if I’m one of the few who think that. Needless to say, he walked away with a speechless room filled with tears of hope. Another speaker who I connected with was Scott Scolnick, a clinical trial patient of the bionic pancreas. Scolnick shared his story of being without diabetes for five days and explained the emotional wall he hit after the opportunity to test the bionic pancreas. His journey posed questions I now ask myself; will I be ready for a day without diabetes? How will that change my life? (Although the answer seems obvious, it is quite complex) The last two statements that resonated with me were “diabetes is exhausting” and “diabetes is like a spiritual gift sent from God to show you how perfect you’re not.” By Joe Solowiejczyk. Both of these statements are explicitly true, my doctor often jokes with me as I am a perfectionist with everything I do, but diabetes, because it is impossible to be perfect all of the time!

As the conference came to a close it was bittersweet, I was given tools and taught leadership skills that were to prepare me for my internship this summer. With these skills I was expected to move forward and truly jump into the working world with an “of course I can!” attitude. While the Leadership Academy and conference helped prepare me for what was to come, it also provided me with friendships I was not expecting. With all of the people I met, we each shared a common burden, and who couldn’t get along with someone who also has insane stories of being low, high, or the lack of normalcy in our lives. I have always been surrounded by diabetes, attending multiple diabetes camps and having family members with this disease has given me a support system many people do not have. I did not expect to add to this support system, or to provide what I have received for so many years to others. Students with Diabetes helped me network into a bigger diabetes world, and I am so happy I was given this opportunity. I left with friends who shared common goals to work in the diabetes field, friends who also wondered if living without diabetes was something that would change us all together; and how could you not make a friend after shoving glucose tabs down his throat when his blood glucose was 23? And among making friends, I was able to have these real conversations and experiences in which I had not experienced before. The Students with Diabetes Leadership Academy and Conference was one of the greatest experiences I have had yet. Thank you Nicole and John for recognizing and acknowledging my passion for diabetes, and giving me the opportunity to work in a field I would have never thought to try. Thank you for creating an experience every person with type one should be given, and generating an environment in which we can connect, grow, and thrive in bettering ourselves. Students with Diabetes has added to my passion, and I will be paying it forward.

 

 

 

 

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