Advocacy Blog

Interning in the Advocacy Office – Jeffrey’s Story

My name is Jeffrey Peterson and I am thrilled to be working in the JDRF Advocacy office this summer! I am from Burlington, Vermont and attending The George Washington University. I am a rising sophomore majoring in Political Communications with a double minor in Public Health and Political Science. I spend a lot of my time contributing to the community around me through volunteer work and advocacy efforts.

Jeffrey, with his high school best friend, Merrick (T1D) on their graduation day!

While I do not have type 1 diabetes or have any family members with the disease, two of my closest friends from high school and college do. Prior to meeting these two very important people in my life, I had little to no knowledge of what T1D was. I was exposed to the effect this has on everyday life for these two friends, and it was then I realized my desire to contribute to JDRF’s mission of turning Type One into Type None.

Hoping to expand my scope, I did work at Vermont Children’s Hospital the summer of my sophomore year in high school. Through this life-altering experience, I realized how lucky I was to live such an active and healthy childhood in comparison to the children I was working with each day, and shifted my life goals to ones that would help others. Through my time in the martial arts, theater and politics, I found my voice and remained active in my local community by advocating for the needs of those who were not heard. It was during my senior year that I found my passion to stand up for the voices of the forgotten through a battle with my local school board. As budget cuts threatened the education of minorities and students with disabilities, it was my job as President of the student body to make sure our most vulnerable populations were heard loud and clear. This work naturally led to a leadership role on a gubernatorial campaign, where I constantly fought to ensure that the needs of all Vermonters were met.

This is Jeffrey with his friend and hallmate, Caroline (T1D and former CC Delegate and Advocay intern)! She is one of his closest friends at GW, and every night after a long day of studying they would hang out in the hall and talk about our days! Sometimes they even took selfies as great as this!

It was through these experiences that I recognized the power of numbers and the importance of speech. As a high school senior struggling to figure out my next steps, I was determined to commit my life to serving and fighting for causes larger than myself to help others, naturally leading to my curiosity and desire to participate in the work JDRF does. By the end of this, you may be wondering how exactly I got involved with JDRF. During my freshman year at George Washington, a friend of mine with T1D  volunteered at the Greater Chesapeake and Potomac Chapter of JDRF, and went on to intern at the advocacy office. She came home every day from JDRF happier than the last, always saying how fulfilling it was to do work  that was bigger than herself, and that is ultimately how I ended up here; I too, want to contribute to a cause that is bigger than myself.

I am very excited to see where this work leads as I look forward to a future filled with events, walks and fundraisers to benefit JDRF. I am especially thrilled to be part of the 2017 JDRF Children’s Congress in late July as over 160 children and teenagers will serve as Delegates, meeting with their Members of Congress on Capitol Hill and advocating for continued federal funding for T1D research. I can’t wait to be part of this event and to see the impact these Delegates have!


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