The magazine’s “Table Talk” cover photo model has a food story of her own: She was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes the summer before starting college. Here, she visits with Gonzaga Magazine writer Sidnee Grubb about that discovery.
S: Tell us about your journey with diabetes.
M: I was diagnosed three months before I was a freshman in college. That was a huge time of transition, not just going from high school to college in a social context but also mentally and physically as my health was undergoing a huge transformation. My parents were nervous for me to go because I didn’t have experience with the disease. My dad has type 1 diabetes as well, so I had grown up being around it, but it’s completely different when you actually have it.
When I was a freshman I was kind of in denial. I thought, “Yep, I have diabetes, no big deal – I’ve got this.” I was on a rollercoaster of high and low blood sugars. I’d wake up in the middle of the night shaking and disoriented.
When I went home for Christmas after my first semester, my dad noticed that my eating habits hadn’t really changed. He warned me about how this disease could really affect my health, and that’s when I really grieved over having diabetes. It hit me that, oh my gosh, this is what I’m going to have [to deal with] for the rest of my life.
Then I realized I could move forward with it, and not let it affect my college experience.
S: What did you do to keep it from affecting you emotionally?
M: I think going in to college, everyone has to learn to manage and cope with all the new experiences and freedoms. I didn’t perceive myself as any different and I had a really positive attitude about it. That’s how I’ve approached everything in my life is from positivity.
I’m glad that I was the one to get diabetes versus someone else because I’m organized. It’s one of the most manageable diseases I could have been dealt. Today, I look at diabetes as just a part of who I am – it doesn’t define me.
S: Did having diabetes as a freshman in college affect your social experience?
M: I was able to talk to people about it – I was very open from the start and was met with support and sometimes curiosity. Some people are
openly curious and others are more worried. It was honestly a good icebreaker, a topic of conversation to get to know people.
S: Have you found community at Gonzaga as a person with diabetes?
M: There actually is a Diabetes Club on campus here, which surprised me. On the outside, you can’t really tell when people have diabetes. Every now and then I’ll see people on campus with a pump or their medications and it’s a point of connection.
“Gonzaga means so much to me. Whether I’m in the Kennel with my Zags,
or with friends in Hemmingson, or on a table with some cauliflower
– I’m just so happy to see my journey unfold at Gonzaga.”
– Maddie Stutz, ’18
S: What advice would you give to any upcoming Gonzaga students out there who are diabetic and wondering what being a college student with diabetes is going to be like?
M: First off I’d say “Own it.” You have diabetes and that’s cool. Rock it. Make conscious decisions with all your choices. Be prepared and don’t be afraid to talk to the people who need to know or could support you. Be the best version of yourself with your disease, be aware of it and know that it can affect you, but know that it does not have to hold you back – ever.
S: The question everyone asks: What are you doing after graduation?
M: I hope to travel to Asia for three to four weeks with my best friend. I’m from Seattle so potentially being back in Seattle or moving to another big city. It’s just a matter of finding a job in the public relations or promotions field.