The diagnosis of type 1 diabetes came when Ah-Lisa Hull was only 8 years old. It ushered in a new era for her and her family with worries about the future as well as an abrupt change in lifestyle.
Fast-forward a little more than a decade, and Hull is a senior at Penn State Abington. The diagnosis changed her life, but it galvanized her to have an impact on others living with diabetes. Hull wants to attend medical school and specialize in endocrinology -- the doctors who treat people with diabetes -- and educate the public about the reality of living with the condition.
"There needs to be more awareness about diabetes," the biology major said. "I've had and still have encounters where people question what I can and can't eat. My eating regimen is different than another diabetic's, just like a 'normal' person's diet is different from someone else's."
Hull stresses that teaching families and caregivers to understand the drastic changes the diagnosis delivers is critical to a patient's success.
"When I become a doctor, I will have the families of my patients adopt the exact same diabetic lifestyle for a month or so in order for them to understand you can't just isolate the diabetic," she said. "Everyone has to change their lifestyle so the overall assimilation isn't a solo trip for the patient."
"When I become a doctor, I will have the families of my patients adopt the exact same diabetic lifestyle for a month or so in order for them to understand you can't just isolate the diabetic."
-- Ah-Lisa Hull, senior at Penn State Abington
Hull developed the video "The Doctor in Me" to give a peak into her everyday life, and, with her graphic designer dad's help, an educational brochure.
"I want to get the message out that to understand the diabetic lifestyle you have to experience it," she said.
Hull juggles a busy schedule outside of Penn State Abington. She works at a retirement community, in the leasing office of her apartment complex, and in the campus financial aid office. She also volunteers in the HELP (Hospital Elder Life Program) at Abington Jefferson Health supporting hospitalized seniors trying to maintain their independence.
She also serves as an officer in the Abington Student Veterans Organization, an especially meaningful role for her. Her mother retired last week after serving 24 years in the U.S. Army.
Clearly, Ah-Lisa Hull is a woman in command of her future. And she designed a T-shirt to make her point — emblazoned across the back: My condition isn't a sickness. I am in control.