Hello! My name is Sara Carpenter. I am from Rhode Island, America’s beloved Ocean State, and as you may have guessed, I love to sail! I am presently a junior at American University, studying environmental science and law and society. My hope is to attend law school after undergrad, but that is subject to change pending a career path epiphany. My interest in becoming a lawyer stems from being so inquisitive at a very young age, and also a politically-active family. Time will tell where life actually takes me, as it is full of endless twists and turns.
Speaking of life’s twists and turns – last May I was diagnosed with type one diabetes (T1D), at the age of 19. It’s been a wild ride since then, but here I am today interning with JDRF Advocacy, and I simply can’t imagine things being any better. Much to my mother’s dismay, I studied abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark a mere two months after my diagnosis. That fall semester was full of highs and lows and food labels written in Danish, but I learned very quickly how to balance my diabetes, school, culture shock, and just about anything else you could imagine being thrown my way during my time spent in the happiest country on earth. I learned how to give my friends ‘the diabetes talk,’ and also how to show them what glucagon is. I learned that it’s okay to feel homesick, and it’s okay to get help from other people. But without a doubt, my biggest takeaway has been that I learned how to take care of myself – independent of my family or any of my closest friends. Nobody was there to hold my hand. It would be unfair, however, to say that it was easy, but with lots of support I stayed the whole semester, and my time in Denmark evolved into the greatest learning experience of my life so far.
It is impossible to effectively describe my excitement about this internship. Coming in every day to an office where people understand me, and view boluses and finger pricks as typical every day affairs, reminds me of my 19 years before knowing T1D. A time when nobody thought twice about my day-to-day actions. This offers me hope that through our advocacy efforts, the world will become more aware of people like me, and the struggles we face and little victories we rack up every day. It’s nice to be part of such a group that faces this challenge every day of our lives, as we seek to one day create a world without T1D.