Hello! My name is Analeigh Hughes and I’m one of the JDRF Advocacy Interns for the spring 2018 semester! I’m finishing up my sophomore year at the University of Maryland, College Park where I’m majoring in multiplatform journalism and minoring in public leadership. I’m originally from Rockland County, New York, but I’ve quickly grown to love Maryland and DC!
Life as my family and I knew it changed on February 5, 2003, which was the day after my fifth birthday. My doctor found sugar in my urine during a routine physical, and wanted me to go for a glucose tolerance test to confirm his suspicions of type 1 diabetes (T1D). This was an absolute shock to my family, since we didn’t have a family history of the disease and the only symptoms I showed were being tired and hungry (which most four-year-olds complain about anyways).
My family got involved with our local JDRF chapter almost immediately, and are still involved today! I’m so thankful for the relationships, knowledge and experiences my family and I have had through working with our JDRF chapter. However, the most important one for me was in 2015, when I was selected to represent New York and my chapter at Children’s Congress the summer going into my senior year of high school. I can honestly say that this experience set me on the path I’m on today. I realized that I loved the Washington D.C. area and all the opportunities it could afford me, I discovered my interest in policy and advocacy, and my mom and I were first introduced to JDRF Advocacy. Along with lobbying (which was such a cool experience), I also got to meet a bunch of kids my age, meet celebrities who also live with T1D, and get a tour of the Capitol! After those three days, my mom and I knew that we wanted to stay involved with Advocacy.
Although T1D definitely has its ups and downs, I try to not let it stop me from living my life. In high school, I was editor-in-chief of my school newspaper and a four-year varsity swimmer. In college, I stay busy by writing for campus publications, participating in a girl’s fitness club and as a member of the planning team for my school’s Dance Marathon, which I recently accepted the position of Public Relations chair for 2018-19! I’ve come to learn that by making sure I’m prepared for any diabetes-related issues that may arise and being open with those around me about it, it makes things a little bit easier to manage!
I’m so happy that I had the opportunity to intern for the Advocacy department this semester! Being here for the renewal of the Special Diabetes Program and Government Day are two experiences that taught me a lot and that I’ll never forget! I also enjoyed being able to get to know everyone in the office and help out with whatever people needed, whether that was preparing and sending One Walk and TypeOneNation Summit materials or creating the Member bios for Government Day. Most importantly, I got to see the work that goes into making sure that people with T1D are benefitting from top-notch research and technologies. Seeing everyone from JDRF staff and volunteers to politicians to researchers all come together to improve the lives of people with type 1 diabetes is truly inspiring!