9/9/2015
Taking Diabetes to College
A Berrie Center Patient Tells it Like it Is

Stanley Kay, 22, was, as he put it, a “career-minded 9-year-old,” who began dreaming about his future in elementary school—first as a baseball player, then as broadcaster for ESPN and finally as a sportswriter with a degree from a top school and a great job in journalism. In 2014, after graduating from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, Stanley got a job at Sports Illustrated (SI) as a writer, editor and producer on the SI breaking news team, a dream come true.

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But nearly two years before entering Northwestern, and completely out of left field, Stanley was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D)—the last thing he thought he’d be taking with him to college.

Still, Stanley successfully identified, tackled and even wrote about the challenges of taking diabetes to college. And, as a result, Stanley has become an accidental expert on the topic. Last month, he participated in a workshop at the Berrie Center called “Taking Your Diabetes to College.”  The story he wrote for North by Northwestern titled “Diabetic Students Juggle Glucose Levels and Class” was picked up by the Huffington Post.

“We were honored to have Stanley at our College Workshop,” said Berrie Center pediatric endocrinologist, Natasha Leibel, MD, who led the workshop. “He gave honest, practical advice, and he is an inspiration to young adults that they can successfully manage college life and diabetes.”

“I guess I am an expert at this,” said Stanley, who grew up in Delray Beach, Florida and now lives in Brooklyn. “I’m always happy to help out. I can really relate to what kids with diabetes are going through when they leave for college.”

There is a long list of reasons why college is even more stressful than usual with diabetes, said Stanley. “One of the most important aspects of regulating diabetes is to avoid excess and maintain discipline. College life discourages both.”  The accessibility of large quantities of food, the availability of alcohol, the spontaneity of college, Greek life and the busy and erratic nature of each day—are "all antithetical to the 24/7 effort required to effectively control diabetes,” he added.

“It’s difficult but doable,” said Stanley, who never sidelined any of his dreams because of his diabetes.  “College is great and I had a fantastic time. But I’ve found that the real world is great too and much easier than college for people with diabetes.” 

As a sportswriter, Stanley continues to manage his diabetes with diligence, an insulin pump and a continuous glucose monitor. Talk about hard work paying off. A year out of Northwestern, Stanley has landed one of the best jobs in sports journalism for a young writer. He covers breaking news for Sports Illustrated online ( www.si.com ) and is currently covering (for the first time in his professional career) the venerable US Tennis Open. Go Stanley!

To read Stanley Kay’s in-depth, tell it like it is, informative account on diabetes in college that was published in the Huffington Post click here.