Where are they now? An Interview with CDN Alum, Erica Farr

Contributor
Ally Lupu & Erica Farr

Editor's Note: Our 2021 NextGen Fellows interviewed some of our CDN alumni. We will be featuring these interviews each month in 2022!

Erica Farr was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes when she was only six years old. Though she quickly learned that diabetes would not stop her from doing all the things she loves. As of now, Erica uses the TXlimX2 and the Dexcom G6, and did not fail to mention the appreciation of the elimination of finger pokes. 

“I was told that I would probably die prematurely due to diagnosis and diabetes would cause issues in ever having my own children. The year was 2001. Since then, technology has changed so much that all of those statements do not automatically apply in relation to life with T1D.”

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Erica was heavily involved with the College Diabetes Network throughout her time in school, founding the Chapter that exists at Grand Valley State University. The CDN Chapter evolved from a previous group known as the Student with Diabetes organization. 

“At the time all members were graduating or found themselves too busy to continue so myself and the remaining two members took leadership positions and with their assistance and all in agreement I contacted CDN on how to start a Chapter at GVSU."

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"She mentioned that being a part of CDN has given her great leadership opportunities, career boosters, and motivation to continue influencing the diabetes community."

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Erica and her fellow executive board members were then tasked with the responsibility of defining the Chapter, and worked closer with a member of the allied health faculty. The Chapter at GVSU grew to become inclusive of those who have, know someone, or want to learn more about type 1 diabetes. 

Erica was also a fellow in the NextGen program and worked as an intern with JDRF. She mentioned that being a part of CDN has given her great leadership opportunities, career boosters, and motivation to continue influencing the diabetes community.

“Working at JDRF and with all my experience with CDN I was nominated by a local Endocrinologist at Helen DeVos Children’s for a patient advocate award and was flown out to San Diego to speak on the life, care, and issues T1Ds face daily while not only living with T1D but thriving with T1D.”

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"I was nominated by a local Endocrinologist at Helen DeVos Children’s for a patient advocate award and was flown out to San Diego to speak on the life, care, and issues T1Ds face daily."

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Erica noted that she had been impacted in numerous ways through her participation with CDN, though through her presidency, she was introduced to a very influential professor, Alicia Davis. Erica discussed her desire to go to grad school following graduation with the professor, but was undecided on the appropriate field. 

“Professor Davis said one sentence that changed my life….  “What you do is Public Health and you would be perfect for the field of Public Health; I will write you a letter of recommendation.”

Erica earned her Masters in Public Health with an emphasis in Health Promotions in 2020 from Grand Valley State University, the same institution in which she received her bachelors of science in Health Communications with a minor in Advertising and Public Relations in 2017. She now works as a Public Health Educator at the Health Department in Muskegon County, Michigan, and is currently serving as the Lead COVID-19 Case Investigation. Additionally, Erica holds the title of a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES). 

 

 

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"I will always stay connected to CDN and forever hold a special place in my heart for other members, alumni, and the amazing staff.”

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Erica continues to stay connected to CDN through an alumni Chapter. She stays in touch daily through a group chat composed of dozens of previous chapter presidents. 

“We keep each other up to date on insulin affordability, changing policies, and we keep each other accountable on days when no one truly understands the battles a T1D lives through daily - besides someone else living with T1D. I will always stay connected to CDN and forever hold a special place in my heart for other members, alumni, and the amazing staff.”

In the future, Erica hopes to continue her education and receive a Doctorate in Public Health, and eventually return to working in diabetes care. 

“I love working in a job that feels like a true calling and passion.”