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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

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Diabetes Link helps students navigate college life 

The Hawk News
Lauren Hanusey ’24, a member of Diabetes Link. PHOTO: MADELINE WILLIAMS ’26/THE HAWK

Lauren Hanusey ’24 was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 15 years old. 

Now, in college, Hanusey said managing her diabetes is “an interesting experience.”

“It is difficult balancing school work, my job, leadership positions and taking care of my diabetes,” Hanusey said. 

Type 1 diabetes is a chronic condition in which someone’s pancreas cannot produce insulin properly. Those with the condition manage it through the monitoring of glucose levels and treatment with synthetic insulin through the form of injections or insulin pumps, computerized devices that deliver insulin to the body.

One thing that has helped Hanusey is the College Diabetes Network (CDN), recently renamed Diabetes Link (DL). A national organization with chapters in universities across the U.S., DL provides peer support, resources and leadership opportunities for both college students with diabetes and allies.  

“I have a strong network of other diabetics through the CDN who are going through similar experiences that help make it easier to navigate this lifestyle,” Hanusey said.

Caitlin McGillicuddy, DL director of marketing and communications, and Andrea Lafleche, DL program manager and peer support, wrote in a joint email response to The Hawk that fostering a sense of community is one of the many ways DL supports its college chapters. Other ways include suggestions on how to juggle college and diabetes management.

“We provide guidance on creating routines that work for them, tips on how to gain access to your school’s accommodations, as well as resources about how to have a great college experience,” McGillicuddy and Lafleche wrote. “This may look like advice on eating in the dining hall, partying with diabetes, dating, Spring Break, school burn out coupled with diabetes burnout and more.” 

As a member of DL college network, St. Joe’s chapter receives a $50 stipend to help with club meetings and group activities. Anna Jordan ’23 started the St. Joe’s chapter in 2021.

Jordan said before applying for colleges, she and her parents attended a DL-sponsored event at The College of New Jersey and found the event informative. 

“While I was there, I was able to hear the panelists’ personal experiences of having [type 1 diabetes] at college,” Jordan wrote in response to written questions from The Hawk. “After hearing their inspirational stories, I wanted to be able to give other diabetics the same advice and experience that those panelists gave me.” 

Jordan said for students with diabetes, acclimating to a new way of living is challenging but being a part of the DL community provides help to those who need it most. 

“For me, being diagnosed wasn’t a huge challenge, but for those who are newly diagnosed, it can be much harder,” Jordan said. “I think DL helps mitigate those challenges through having someone you can talk to about the present issues you face.”

Michael Stears ’25 plans to join St. Joe’s chapter as a support person once his younger sister, Molly Stears, enters St. Joe’s as a first-year student in the fall of 2023. Molly Stears was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was 15 and is still adjusting.

“This is totally new to me, still, after two years,” Molly Stears said. “I have been playing high school sports, living, eating and operating my life normally, but now I have to be careful with what I eat and pay attention to my blood sugar 24 hours a day.” 

Michael Stears already helps his sister by helping to monitor her blood sugar on the app Dexcom, which allows up to 10 people to monitor the blood sugar of someone who is wearing the Dexcom device for type 1 diabetes. 

“I want to be able to support my sister as best I can, and I feel like joining the CDN here at St. Joe’s by her side will help her feel more comfortable and help me learn more, too,” Michael Stears said. 

Domenica Million ’23 contributed to this story. 

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