Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Exploring Education and Engineering with Diabetes

Third quarter has been entered into the grade book and as a reward for high achievement on report cards, we spent the weekend with our girls at a local university.

The first evening, we connected with our wonderful Dr. Joyce Lee @joyclee, an Endocrinologist/Researcher/Designer of the inspiring University of Michigan #MakeHealth movement to listen to an equally inspiring and creative guest presenter; Sarah Krugman from Tidepool.  The open - invitation event connected a few T1D professionals locally to review a few of the recent data management innovations that Sarah and the team from Tidepool created; notably Blip and Nutshell.  

Now you may be puzzled at why something wrapped around type one diabetes and even more potentially groan-worthy, wrapped around the data of type one diabetes would be considered a reward.  Even worse, a reward for teenagers.  I think the Emoji for this is pretty obvious: 

Yet, it was a reward indeed because what I have discovered is that the life we live while living with type one diabetes is often most impacted, by the people that we surround ourselves with.

People, like Sarah, that are doing the creating, designing, and making of products for type one diabetes are the ones that will effectively make change in our world.  Sarah personifies cool.  She thinks outside of the box while coloring outside of the lines with a result that is not only beautiful but also thoughtfully develops into a tangible product or process that makes life better for all of our families that live with type one diabetes.  

Just through attending Sarah's presentation, both girls left the meeting with a gift.  The gift was the powerful message of having the confidence to create through personal expression.  As background to how Sarah landed where she was with Tidepool today, she openly shared her background; including a diagnosis with type one diabetes and how her personal journey had led her through art projects that showcased the raw, emotional and personal story of living with chronic illness.  Those art projects led to positions within process and product design and from there, she was able to channel her expertise into meaningful new products with patient-centered design.  

Nothing clarifies this more than listening to two young ladies eagerly chatting about what they want to do and how they want to do it.  As our youngest said, "I can do that too.  Sarah should see my idea book.  I've got to get working on it."  

During the second day, with the creativity flow secured under their belts, both girls attended a Society of Women's Engineering (SWE) STEM day on the same campus.  This event brings girls together from all around the state to investigate the college of Engineering; including potential career pathways.  The days' schedule included participating in college class activities, lunch with students showcasing current engineering projects and a wrap-up college tour with a student panel q & a.

Hot off the heels of listening to Sara's design inspiration, both girls felt the desire to create and literally, make things that led to change.  Understanding that the possibility of allowing this to happen was only an education away, both girls basked in the moment of being on a campus that encouraged this type of passionate thinking.  Suddenly, it was as if a light bulb appeared over each of their curly haired heads. "This place is for ME" exclaimed my oldest daughter.

Sharing stories with her sister and the rest of our family, oldest daughter said, "Remember that teacher (professor) that asked about research?  I loved how surprised she was when I answered her questions about not giving up when projects fail.  With T1D, we can't ever give up.  We have to do what we need to do.  It was awesome to see that she understood.  I can't wait to go to school with people like that.  I'm going to do so well there."

I have a feeling that she most certainly will.

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