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In praise of graduate’s support for others

Nansemond River High School class of 2015 graduate and recent College of William & Mary graduate Amelia Corl has an outstanding plan to help others with chronic illnesses like hers, and as someone that was diagnosed with diabetes in college, I support her efforts.

Corl, 21, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma during her freshman year at William and Mary. She took a medical withdrawal from the rest of that spring semester for her treatments. Fortunately, she was in remission by the start of her sophomore year and was able to attend that fall semester.

But it was a difficult transition for her to go back to school, making sure she had the credits she needed to graduate on time and getting back into her college routine — all while the anxiety of her cancer hung over her head.

I remember that anxiety when I came back to George Mason University after I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes during my winter break freshman year. I came back to school in the spring with a full schedule of classes and boxes of insulin, test strips, needles and a whole new routine of blood sugar checks and regular injections.

It was a rough change of pace for me that only got easier through practice and with the help of people that cared about me: my family that called me daily to see how I was doing; my friends, including one fellow Type 1 diabetic who reminded me I wasn’t alone in this; my roommates that knew how to use my glucagon shot in case I got too low, and also to call paramedics if I’m so low that I’m incoherent — but luckily that was just the one time.

Corl said it helped her to speak with others that have gone through similar experiences, and that inspired her to reach out and help others dealing with serious health issues like hers.

The Children’s Cause for Cancer named her a CCCA College Scholar for her efforts, which comes with a $2,000 academic scholarship, and one of the reasons she was selected was because of her chosen advocacy project that will benefit children with cancer.

More specifically, her project will be to start a student organization at George Washington University this fall, when she starts her studies toward a Master of Public Health. This organization will serve as a support and education advocacy platform for people that are managing chronic illnesses.

“It was really helpful to just commiserate and try to figure out solutions together, which is why I think it would be helpful to create more groups on college campuses where students could do that,” Corl said.

I couldn’t agree more, and I thank Corl for all the work she’s planning to do to help ease the burden for students that are managing their conditions each and every day.