Tell us about yourself:
Line 1: Emily Ragano. Line 2: Diabetic. Line 3: International Babe. Those were the words I chose to put on my medical ID tag when I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) at age 10. My family and I were living in Croatia and I thought it would be a good opportunity to let the world know what I was all about. I have since grown out of my first medical ID tag (and matured a bit too) and although I still have T1D, I no longer identify as an “international babe.” I’m very grateful for the experiences I have had living overseas in Croatia and Switzerland—especially grateful for the cheese and chocolate!
I graduated from James Madison University (JMU) with a degree in Media Arts and Design in 2016. I love art in all its forms (theater, drawing, photography, graphic, music, etc). What motivates me every day is meeting new people, trying new foods, and learning new perspectives. I’m passionate about passion and perpetually positive!
Describe your history with type 1 and your relationship with JDRF.
After I was diagnosed, I was taken to an Austrian Children’s Hospital where I was first educated on what living with T1D would be like. My mom took meticulous notes and studied the disease like she was going back to college to get her PhD. My only concern was whether or not I could still eat Starburst. My mom’s initial support with my health has lasted from my diagnosis to now. Luckily, I had never been afraid of needles and was fascinated by all the carb counting and glucose checking. As I got older, my T1D became more difficult to manage. However, I am lucky to have surrounded myself with family and friends that are dedicated to helping me with all things diabetes related.
Although it’s cliché, having the incredible support of my family and friends has made living with T1D a lot easier and I am sincerely grateful for their willingness to support and learn all they can about this disease. I joined Alpha Sigma Tau sorority at JMU where my chapter’s local philanthropy was JDRF. I’m lucky to have had a whole sisterhood support me through our JDRF fundraising events (which were a blast to participate in).
What would you say to encourage someone who does not have a direct T1D connection to volunteer with the chapter?
Helping others is a drive all humans can relate to. JDRF has research aspects, advocacy efforts, and fundraising events and it reaches beyond any one way to help someone impacted by this disease. Not only does JDRF embody an amazing cause, it provides multiple avenues to help others. Success is measured through advancements in medical devices as well as the support felt by families and individuals after attending a JDRF event. When you volunteer for JDRF, your efforts are realized in a more tangible and fulfilling way.
What are you most excited about with your new job at JDRF?
Learning. I’m excited to learn everything from how to organize fundraisers to advances in medical devices. I love listening to all the ways JDRF helps better the lives of those living with T1D and learning how to be a part of this effort is something I cannot wait to get started!