Interning in the JDRF Advocacy Office – Ashlyn’s Story


Hi everyone! My name is Ashlyn Donohue and I am originally from a small town in New York called Pearl River, which is just 45 minutes outside of Manhattan. Currently, I am a junior at The George Washington University majoring in biology and minoring in public health and emergency health services. In my spare time, I like to hike, dance, and take pictures with my dad’s old film camera! I am so thankful to have been able to spend this past semester interning with the amazing Advocacy Team here in DC!

Ashlyn and fellow members of the GWU CDN chapter at the ADA Walk, September 2017.

I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D) just about 10 years ago, at age 10. Being in the 5th grade, I didn’t know anything about diabetes and remember being scared when my doctor told me I needed to go to the hospital. Because I went to such a small elementary school and high school, I didn’t know any other people with diabetes and it was quite alienating at times. When I came to college though, I decided it would be a good time to finally meet others who have type 1! My endocrinologist told me about The College Diabetes Network (CDN) during the summer before my sophomore year, and I decided to start a chapter at GWU the following semester. I ended up finding another type 1 (my new friend, Caroline – former JDRF Advocacy intern!) and we started the chapter together. I made several new T1D friends and finally had people to talk with who truly understood what it is like to live with diabetes!

Ashlyn at JDRF 2018 Government Day outside Congresswoman Nita Lowey’s office.

Although I had heard of JDRF after I was diagnosed, I never thought about getting involved until I met my friends through the CDN. Several of them had been involved in Children’s Congress, One Walks, and this internship. I learned more about JDRF, and now here I am! It’s an awesome feeling to get to work at a place where it’s normal to check your blood sugar or to talk about being “high.” I had so much fun getting to meet all of the advocacy leaders and talk to representatives on Capitol Hill about T1D and the Special Diabetes Program during Government Day in March, and I recently got to go to a regulatory workshop on automated insulin delivery with people from the FDA and biotechnology companies!

Before college, I had felt like I missed out on the opportunity to get involved in the diabetes community, but JDRF helped change this. I can’t wait to continue getting more involved in the community and in advocacy even after this internship ends!