Editor's Note: Our 2021 NextGen Fellows interviewed some of our CDN alumni. We will be featuring these interviews each month in 2022!
Ally Lupu: Tell me about yourself!
Krysta Walter: I was diagnosed with type one diabetes when I was 10 years old, I’m 27 now, so it’s been almost two decades. My younger sister actually has type one as well, so it was nice to always have someone that understood. It has definitely gotten easier as I’ve gotten older, but working in healthcare has also given me a much better understanding of diabetes. I have a degree in biomolecular science, and I graduated pharmacology school from The University of Michigan in 2019, and completed my residency at the University of Carolina focusing on solid organ transplants. I moved back to Michigan and now work at U of M, half of the time in the hospital and half in the clinic.
AL: Can you describe your involvement with CDN?
KW: My freshman year of college I joined an organization called Students For Diabetes Awareness, it was pretty much a mix of a support group and fundraising events. It wasn't affiliated with the College Diabetes Network, but we didn't have a Chapter at our school. I became the president of that organization, that's how I got connected with CDN, and I established a Chapter in 2014.
"It has definitely gotten easier as I’ve gotten older, but working in healthcare has also given me a much better understanding of diabetes."
AL: How were you most impacted by CDN?
KW: I had the opportunity to attend a CDN retreat in Maine where there were various Chapters from around the country. We got to send two people, so I went with my co-president. It was the first year that they had it and the focus was on how to give colleges and universities the tools and resources to start their Chapters. CDN also provided resources that we could take back to our Chapters to continue our development. It was a mix of leadership activities, personal support and bonding. Personally, I enjoyed the friendships and bonding with other Chapter members. They could relate exactly what you are going through when talking about experiences in college. You’re usually the odd one out, so it was a really rewarding experience.
"They could relate exactly what you are going through when talking about experiences in college. You’re usually the odd one out, so it was a really rewarding experience."
AL: Did CDN serve as a catalyst for your career?
KW: The diagnosis of Diabetes itself pushed me to my interest in healthcare, but CDN did help a lot. To get into a professional school, you need volunteer work and extracurricular activities to show that you’re well-rounded. CDN checks those boxes but it is also a personal experience for me. By working with a community of people who are the same age as you and going through the exact same things as you, we were able to come together and really create meaningful outcomes.
AL: Who have been your mentors? How have they helped you?
KW: Christina Roth for sure. At the retreat, she told her story and why she decided to start the College Diabetes Network. It was really really inspiring to me to hear her tell her experience first hand.
"By working with a community of people who are the same age as you and going through the exact same things as you, we were able to come together and really create meaningful outcomes."
AL: Where would you like to be in the future?
KW: Professionally, I have always tried to incorporate diabetes on a clinical standpoint. After transplant surgeries, patients get put on medication that can cause hypoglycemia and are sometimes diagnosed with what is called post transplant diabetes. With my experience, I can bring personal awareness and a better level of understanding to my career. I also like to stay involved with diabetes research opportunities. During my residency as UNC, I actually had the opportunity to participate in clinical trials for diabetes as a patient! I really enjoy teaching others, so eventually I would love to get involved in the College of Pharmacy as a professor so that I could mentor future clinicians.