Editor's Note: Our 2021 NextGen Fellows interviewed some of our CDN alumni. We will be featuring these interviews each month in 2022!
Alexandra Aguirre: Tell me about yourself…
Cassie Abrams: I’m Cassie. I live in Long Island, New York. I’ve had diabetes for a little over 12 years. I studied Integrative Neuroscience, Health and Wellness Studies at Binghamton University. I was a founding member of my undergraduate university CDN chapter. Since then, I’ve been able to do a lot with CDN. I recently graduated from Stony Brook University with my Master’s in Public Health and my Master of Science in Nutrition.
AA: Can you tell me more about your involvement with the CDN?
CA: Besides being a founding member of my chapter, I was a NextGen Leader in 2019 that was when I went to the CDN’s headquarters in Boston. I got to meet other Chapter members and listen to presentations by industry leaders working in the diabetes sector. I was a NextGen Leader again in 2020. I virtually attended the American Diabetes Association 80th Scientific Sessions. I made content sharing my experience and learnings. I worked on my graduate thesis with CDN gathering data analytics to evaluate the nutrition literacy of young diabetic adults to determine how it influences mental and physical health. Currently, I’m collaborating as a panelist for an event they are hosting called From A to Gen Z to share my thoughts on the future direction of healthcare.
" I worked on my graduate thesis with CDN gathering data analytics to evaluate the nutrition literacy of young diabetic adults to determine how it influences mental and physical health."
AA: In what ways has your involvement impacted on you and others?
CA: It impacted my college career. My Chapter was brought about in the need of being understood. Starting my Chapter transformed the accommodations office - providing more support to students while positively impacting my college time. “It takes another diabetic to really understand diabetes.” Professionally speaking, the CDN has given me opportunities that I wouldn’t have had if I was not involved with the organization. My involvement also influenced my non-diabetic friends T1D awareness. “I would bring my friend, Sarah, to CDN chapter meetings. She really liked having the opportunity to understand more what my life is about.”
"Professionally speaking, the CDN has given me opportunities that I wouldn’t have had if I was not involved with the organization"
AA: Where are you heading in your career?
CA: Currently I’m applying to Medical School, specifically osteopathic medicine. I see myself as a diabetic endocrinologist. My diagnosis has been a motivation in life. A purpose of educating the people around me and helping people living with diabetes improve their quality of life. “I know it’s not for everyone who has been diagnosed, but to not end up in the diabetes sector…I do not see that as possible.”
AA: What is your fondest memory from the CDN?
CA: When I went to Boston for the 2019 NextGen Leadership Summit. It was my first time attending an event like that. My Chapter was still growing so listening to what everyone else was doing with their chapter was just so exciting and provided ideas for my Chapter. I got to meet really cool people who I am still in contact with to this day. Meeting new people is my favorite part about going to CDN events, whether virtual or in-person. My most recent fondest memory is finishing my thesis.
"My diagnosis has been a motivation in life."
AA: What accomplishment are you most proud of the CDN?
CA: My undergraduate degree means so much to me because I was away from my family for four years. The CDN was a significant support. “I put in a lot of blood, sweat, tears and insulin.” Graduating with my bachelor’s degree meant the absolute world to me and represented a lot of hard work I put in.
AA: What is one thing that the CDN has taught you, and that you carry with you today?
CA: It has taught me that I am not alone. “You might be alone in your family, but you’re not alone in the general public and people are there to understand how you’re feeling”
AA: What advice would you give to other T1D’s?
CA: Be your best advocate. Be upfront with what you need to other students or co-workers if going to the labor market. You know what is best for you. “Say what you need to be successful.”