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Wednesday, September 27, 2023

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Rowan Munro Rankin Rowan Munro Rankin

Connection and Support

Inspired by her experience with Type 1 diabetes, Rowan Munro Rankin is working to bring a nonprofit to SDSU to help students manage the disease.
By Aaron Burgin

“I used to see diabetes as a restriction, but now I see it as a reason to do something with even more passion.”

Coping with Type 1 diabetes on a college campus can be a daunting task. 

The stress of being a student often is compounded by the challenges of managing the disease predominantly on your own and feeling alone in the fight. 

Just ask Rowan Munro Rankin

Diagnosed with the disease when she was 12, Rankin said she struggled with setbacks during her first year at San Diego State University after transferring from San Diego Mesa College. 

One of the things that helped her, the aspiring bilingual education teacher said, was networking with other students she met after attending a diabetic conference. 

The experience inspired Rankin to help bring a nonprofit to SDSU to help students with Type 1 diabetes support one another and provide them with resources to ease the college transition. 

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Rankin is in the process of forming an SDSU chapter of the College Diabetes Network (CDN), which has grown to 138 chapters since its inception in 2009. SDSU would become the ninth California university with a CDN chapter.  

“I was very surprised that SDSU did not have a chapter but was also so excited to get one started,” Rankin said. At a diabetic conference Rankin attended, she realized others with the diseases are probably all around.

“I have been connected with other chapter leaders through CDN and have really been so inspired to do good by my chapter at SDSU and allow for a group of supportive individuals,” Rankin said.

CDN officials applauded Rankin’s initiative.

“Young adults are the driving force behind CDN — all of our resources and programs have been created because of the gaps they have identified,” CDN communications director Sarah Twomey said. “When students, like Rowan, start chapters on their campuses they are creating a critical peer support network for current and future students living with Type 1.”

Type 1 diabetes, the less common of the two diabetes types, occurs when the pancreas produces little to no insulin. More than one million people in the U.S. suffer from Type 1.

Rankin said in addition to finding strength, she hopes the network will give her a chance to impart support on fellow students who can learn from her experience. 

Last year, Rankin fell ill and said a combination of stress and not taking care of her body led to her being hospitalized twice during the fall semester with diabetic ketoacidosis, which occurs when a diabetic patient’s blood sugar rises dangerously high. 

It was her first diabetic relapse since her diagnosis a decade ago. 

“My body just got overwhelmed,” she said. “I would love to let anyone that was in a similar situation know that they are not alone and we will still power through.”

Starting a new student group isn’t easy during the pandemic, but Rankin said she has received positive responses from friends and supporters on the group’s Instagram page. 

“I am very excited to see this club grow and meet so many new people that want to learn more about living with diabetes and how it can be so great to have diabetics in your life,” Rankin said. 

Rankin, a senior Chicana/Chicano studies major, is also studying to receive her teaching credential so she can become a first-grade teacher. Diabetes, she said, won’t define her.  

“I choose to see it as a reason not to give up and push myself toward the things I want and make every day count and do anything and everything I want,” Rankin said. “I used to see diabetes as a restriction, but now I see it as a reason to do something with even more passion.”