Andrew Davis knows the ups and downs of living with type 1 diabetes. Diagnosed at age 5, he is now a junior at Rutgers University. Living on campus his first two years and now commuting, Andrew has seen that college courses, having a social life, working part time, and managing his diabetes is a lot to juggle.
It hasn’t always been easy, but Andrew and his parents, Pam and Terry, have worked to achieve success. Andrew has learned that even at age 20, he is not alone in managing his diabetes. In addition to helping in Andrew's management, Pam has spearheaded the Diabetes Parent Support Network at CHOP.
Andrew has supported his mother’s efforts with the DPSN by helping to set up meetings, and reaching out to newly diagnosed teens who are moving on to college. Andrew would like to develop a support network for older teens making the transition from home. Andrew and his parents shared their experience with transitioning as a family to college, speaking as panelists at the Living Well with Diabetes Conference last year.
“Living on campus was a huge change,” says Andrew. “When I was in high school, my mom helped me a lot with my management. She frequently reminded me to stay on top things — I don’t think I realized how much I relied on her. When I got to Rutgers, it was a whole different ball game. “I’m a social guy. In high school, things were kind of confined. But at Rutgers, with almost 70,000 people to engage, I kept myself busy. It was hard to keep my diabetes management a priority. Life gets in the way sometimes. It was a huge adjustment. I had to get used not having my mom and dad always asking me if I tested or bolused. That, and the irregularity of what I did and ate everyday forced me to really be more intentional about managing my blood sugar.”
Andrew is very open about his diabetes. He does what he needs to do in order to manage his diabetes, no matter where he's been — at the food court, in the classroom or at a party. He says, “I’ve found that people who don't know me become really interested if they see me testing or on my pump. I’ve met some great people just because they see my pump, or what they think is a weird beeper, and we strike up a conversation.”
“having diabetes is nothing to be ashamed of. i haven't always had that perspective. it took me some time to be as open as i am now. it's been a process of acceptance and feeling confident in myself.”
Andrew and his parents have all changed as Andrew has transitioned to college. Pam and Terry have had to let go. They have had to find a balance in respecting Andrew’s independence while their son has had to become more mindful of their peace of mind — not an easy task.
We’d like to thank Andrew for his willingness to share his story and be a resource to young adults moving on to college.