Advocacy Blog

Interning in the JDRF Advocacy Office – Hannah’s Story

Hi everyone, my name is Hannah Early and I am from Lynchburg, Virginia! I am a senior at Virginia Tech (Go Hokies!), majoring in sociology and minoring in professional writing and consumer studies. I am thrilled to be part of the team as a JDRF Advocacy intern this summer!

My life changed dramatically when I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) at the age of 13. I am the first person in my family to have T1D, so it was a huge adjustment for everyone to learn the ins and outs of the disease. Being diagnosed as a teenager meant that I had to make lifestyle changes that I had never given thought to before – I now have to count every carbohydrate I eat, pay extra attention to my blood sugar before and during exercise, and carry more items in my purse than any girl should have to.

Hannah at her first JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes in 2009

Hannah at her first JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes in 2009. Her team won the T-shirt contest!

I was the only student with T1D at the all-girls boarding school I attended. There were times where I felt quite alone and I felt that no one understood the challenges that I faced. Despite these feelings, I started a JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes team in 2009 for my JDRF Chapter in hopes that I would gain support from my school community. Little did I know how much that Walk team would positively impact my life through all the energy, encouragement, and financial support for T1D research that I received from family, friends, classmates, and teachers. Ever since that first Walk I have remained involved with JDRF and have joined them in their mission to find a cure. Even though I still feel frustrated with my diabetes at times, I know I’m not alone and that’s partly due to JDRF’s continued drive to create a world without T1D.

In 2013, I found out about the Students With Diabetes (SWD) organization, founded by Nicole Johnson (Miss America ’99 and a T1D herself). That summer I traveled to Tampa for the SWD National Conference where over 100 young adults with T1D and their type 3s (anyone who supports someone living with diabetes) met, bonded, and connected in a way that I had never before experienced. It was at that conference that I fully realized just how much a cure for T1D is needed, but I also realized that support is crucial when it comes to dealing with a chronic condition like diabetes.

Here is Hannah with Nicole Johnson, DrPH, MPH, MA  (Students With Diabetes founder)

Here is Hannah with Nicole Johnson, DrPH, MPH, MA (SWD founder)

Last summer, through the Students With Diabetes internship program, I interned in JDRF’s Marketing department in New York City. While I had been involved with JDRF for years through Walks, I had never known what goes on “behind the scenes.” My experience last summer was incredibly rewarding both personally and professionally! I am so thankful I had the opportunity to be part a part of the amazing New York team.

In the fall of 2014, I co-founded the current Students With Diabetes chapter at Virginia Tech. It began with just two of us Hokies with T1D and has since grown to ten! Even with a student population of more than 26,000 undergrads, it has been difficult to meet other students with T1D. I am so grateful for the support and friendships I have made since starting the SWD chapter. Whether it’s been getting together for dinner, volunteering for Virginia Tech’s Big Event, or group messaging to vent our diabetes frustrations, it’s been amazing having this group of T1Ds!

Hannah with her Students With Diabetes group at Virginia Tech!

Hannah with her Students With Diabetes group at Virginia Tech!

I couldn’t be more excited to be interning with JDRF once again this summer! Living and working in Washington, D.C. has proven to be full of new experiences and adventures! I have already learned so much about all of the different components of Advocacy at JDRF, and I can’t wait to experience JDRF 2015 Children’s Congress and see what’s in store for the rest of the summer!

2 thoughts on “Interning in the JDRF Advocacy Office – Hannah’s Story

  1. Profile photo of vasuzievasuzie

    Emily, I am so proud and happy for you! I have been T1D since I was 10, now almost 69. When I was in school I never knew of or met another T1 – I was the only one, and pretty much just kept it to myself. No one would understand, so what would be the point? So glad times have changed, technology has made giant strides, and we can all look to aging more gracefully than in the past.
    Keep on doing what you do,

    All my best wishes,
    Suzanne Sutherland
    Earlysville, VA

  2. Profile photo of Billie Sue WozniakBillie Sue Wozniak

    Hannah, thanks for all that you do to spread awareness, support others, and work for a cure for T1D! It was so great to meet you in July – Juno and I always love meeting people like you with T1D who understand what it’s really like, and achieve great things anyway. Now we are working on our advocacy challenges, and enjoy exploring TypeOneNation! See you around!

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