Mindy Bartleson is on a one-way trip up the Eastern Seaboard. She is certainly no stranger to new frontiers and life transitions.
After high school, Mindy moved away from home to the University of Georgia, where she later spent six weeks studying abroad in Paris. Now just a few short years later, Mindy will be heading from Georgia to Boston to join the staff of College Diabetes Network (CDN), the organization that taught her to work hard at what she loves most—helping others adapt to new challenges.
As a student, Mindy was instrumental in getting her CDN chapter off the ground. The group barely existed when she arrived as a freshman. With help from CDN members and former student leaders, “Dawgs with Diabetes” was honored by the University of Georgia for offering the most innovative social initiative, their Campus Tour: A Diabetes Perspective.
Mindy thinks of diabetes as an invisible disability. “There’s a mini roller coaster going on,” she says. “It impacts my daily life and all of my decisions.” That said, it definitely hasn’t held her back from enjoying the ride!
Since her diagnosis in 2000, Mindy has been sharing her message of inspiration. Her audience has varied from high schools to JDRF summits, and government agencies.
“I want people to know that I can live my life and do whatever I want,” she says. “I just have to take care of my diabetes.”
Mindy’s work with CDN during college was a transformational experience, and the support she received is something she hopes to provide to others as their newest Programs Assistant. She is especially concerned about the current lack of resources available to teenagers living with diabetes.
“I want to help continue the growth that is already happening at CDN so that when kids go to college they don’t have to start the chapter. There will already be one there.”
Mindy often tells those who are newly diagnosed that life will change and it will be overwhelming at times, but that it’s not the end of the life that you know. As she prepares for her next adventure—a cruise in Europe—she’s a living testament to her own advice. It seems fitting that she signs off every email with a quote from Walt Disney; “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.”
We wish Mindy well in her new role at CDN, and all of the great adventures that lay ahead!
Interview by Blair Ryan.
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