Age: 22 Year Diagnosed: 2000 Location: San Diego, Ca

“The distinct moment I knew advocacy was my passion was my first time to Capitol Hill for the American Diabetes Association's Call to Congress. I was on the Hill with my mom and the rest of the advocates and we were getting ready to sit down with Congressman Scott Peters, our local representative for California. We all had our talking points, and I started explaining why insulin transparency and affordability was important to me. In that moment, while sitting with Senator Peters and truly speaking from the heart, I knew I was doing what I was meant to do - bringing a voice to the millions of people living with diabetes that can't be heard. That day, I felt that I was part of the change and contributing to the cause for diabetes advocacy. Our members of congress read enough about diabetes on pamphlets and various legislative bills, but talking to a group of people living firsthand with the disease along with their families forces them to listen to our concerns, answer our questions, and look into our eyes when we share our fears. Senator Peters was welcoming and listened to all of our stories, and shared his own ties to diabetes. But most importantly, the connection between everyone in the room was that of camaraderie towards one common goal that we all wanted to see. There is nothing more powerful then using your voice to make a change, and my first year on Capitol Hill will forever be the light that guides me to fight for a better future for everyone living with diabetes.

My advice to anyone with diabetes or someone who has been newly diagnosed would be to trust their guts. Diabetes doesn't get any "easier," but it gets better the more you encounter situations that might be scary at first or unknown territory. The more you experience the highs and lows (pun intended!), the more you realize that you can handle anything diabetes throws at you. We are not given a guide book, but we create our own - find what works for you and makes you feel the best and take the best care of yourself. Lean on people around you: family, friends, coworkers - find your "people" that understand you and are there for you whether you need to vent or need an opinion. You are stronger than you think - don't let the bad days or blood sugar readings get you down. You take care of your body everyday, and should give yourself credit for all that you do! You are beautiful, strong, and a warrior - and nothing, not even diabetes can ruin that!”