Do You, Girl
In a world of conformity and chaos, the act of being unapologetically yourself speaks volumes. They say the older you get, the wiser you get, but sometimes life can just be downright confusing. Through every doubt or disappointment, uncertainty or lack of control, hold strong in exactly who you are and the incredible, unexpected path that is shaping you; this life is good and so are you. “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always be where you’ve always been.”
Everyone really is fighting their own battle, but through vulnerability and transparency, we can take the power back from the pain and learn to prosper in our own unique identity and strength. For Avery, this comes in the form of Type 1 diabetes, but by using her story to speak up, she has declared the disease will only shape her for the better.
“Diabetes was something for my friend’s grandparents. It was the long, dull commercials on TV I always fast forwarded through. It was definitely not something I would ever encounter as a healthy 13 year old girl just trying to focus on getting through middle school. As it turned out, I was wrong. The first semester of 7th grade I became very sick and doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong. The symptoms were not just physical but also emotional, with my parents later telling me it was as if I “lost my personality and my sunshine.” In January, I ended up spending a scary week in the ICU, part of which I was in a diabetic coma. It wasn’t until I reached the most dangerous stage did the doctors recognize the symptoms and finally diagnose me with Type 1 diabetes.
The diagnosis was the start of a new normal for me. I couldn’t have gotten through the transition without my faith and my family. It quickly became clear that I was taking on a 24/7 job, since pretty much everything I do on a daily basis affects control of diabetes in some way. Health and fitness have always been important to me, but now more than ever I choose to be extremely conscious of what I eat and how I exercise and take care of my body. Living with an incurable disease has taught me how to live with resilience. Type 1 diabetes is really good at throwing curveballs, so learning to anticipate the challenges and bounce back with grace and grit has become a daily task. On a smaller scale, that means things like choosing to walk to class although I may not be feeling my best. On a larger scale, that means choosing to become vocal and raise awareness for the disease, although sometimes it seems easier to hide it and pretend to be “normal.” Either way, I’ve been given an opportunity to show that I’m fighting against a challenge and choosing to overcome.
I’m so thankful to be able to talk about how much good has come out of living with diabetes. One of my favorite things to do is talk to people, and the number of conversations started because of my disease over the past 6 years has been awesome. I helped a friend doing a report on diabetes for biology class. I bent down to show a 6 year old girl at Disney World that I had the same glucose meter as her. I worked to calm the fears of parents of newly diagnosed children that I’ve encountered. More recently, I began serving as a global ambassador for a nonprofit organization called Beyond Type 1. Beyond Type 1 works to unite the global diabetes community and focus on education, advocacy and a path to a cure for Type 1 diabetes. As an ambassador, I’m vocal on my social media platforms for the sake of awareness and education, and I engage with the organization and the diabetes community as we seek to change what it means to live with chronic illness.
Type 1 diabetes is a huge part of who I am and that’s not going to change. Initially, after diagnosis, I thought my life would be better off if I tried to keep quiet about what I was going through. But, over the years I’ve realized that the more open I am to sharing my story, the easier every challenge gets. Yes, living with diabetes is hard, sometimes really hard, but the hard days are not what define me. My experiences, my attitude, the people I’m with, my family and friends, my faith that I’ve been made new by Jesus Christ, these are all things that define me. Because I’m anchored to the important things in life, even in the middle of pain or sickness I can have fullness of joy and a “no bad days” mindset. As crazy as it sounds, I’m GRATEFUL for living with Type 1 diabetes because of the opportunities it’s given me to THRIVE.” - Avery Anderson, AC ‘18
Fun Facts about Avery:
- Celebrity crush? Nick Jonas always…specifically Camp Rock 2 Nick Jonas…side note he happens to be diabetic himself and one of the founders of Beyond Type 1!
- Go-to throwback jam? Love Story by Taylor Swift—they played this at every single one of my high school dances and now I get really nostalgic every time I hear it
- Spirit animal? Probably a turtle but I’m open to suggestions
Through a major setback and fearless comeback, Mattie is back home where she belongs-- sparkling on the sidelines for our Clemson Tigers! We are so proud of Mattie and all our Rally Cats for competing in the NDA National Championship this past weekend in Daytona, FL. Their tireless hard work, passion for their craft, and spirit of success brought this vision of excellence to life on the national stage while instilling growth and relationships to last a lifetime.
“Dance has played a significant role in my life since the age of three and is a defining part of who I am. Being on a collegiate dance team has been a lifelong dream of mine, and the desire to be on a prestigious dance team, such as the Rally Cats, was one of the deciding factors to further my education at Clemson University. After having to forego my senior year of competitive dance and the ability to try out for the Clemson Rally Cats due to a major injury, I felt as if I lost a part of myself. After this experience and not being a part of a team for a year, I knew that I wanted to try-out going into my sophomore year. I loved being a Clemson Tiger fan from the stands during my freshman year, but I constantly found myself watching the Rally Cats and longing to be dancing on the sidelines as a representative of this amazing university.
After a year on the team, I can wholeheartedly say that being a part of the Rally Cats has been a defining part of my Clemson experience. The thrill of being on the sidelines on game days with hundreds of thousands of fans all cheering on the Tigers, the inseparable bond between 25 girls that all motivate me in every part of my life, the feeling of finding my family and my place as a student; these are just a few of the reasons that this team has played a huge role in my Clemson story, but it was also the difficult times that impacted me too.
Balancing an insanely busy schedule of football, basketball, other sporting events, appearances, 6 am workouts, being a full-time student, having an internship, and being a part of several other campus organizations has not been easy. There are have been many laughs and smiles this season, but there have also been many tears. This past year has truly tested me in every way imaginable: mentally, physically and emotionally. At the end of the day, however, I knew every single girl on the team was experiencing the same feeling of defeat at times, yet we all pushed through together. I can genuinely say that I would not be the individual I am today without the girls on Rally Cats.
Although there have been many great memories being a part of the Clemson Rally Cats, one of my most recent experiences competing at NDA nationals has been my favorite. We travelled to Daytona, Florida with college teams from across the country to compete in different categories in attempt to be named National Champions. In addition to our football games, basketball games, and other appearances over the past nine months, we have also been constantly working on our routines for this competition. It was a long journey to get there, but last week we finally packed our bags and headed to Daytona. There were hundreds of thousands of people attending this event, and it was such a thrill being able to compete against so many different colleges from around the nation. Although we were only there for four days, I tried to absorb every moment and appreciate this quality time with my team. We may not have be the best team there and we may not have won all of the titles, but we sure have a team that loves to dance, loves our school, and loves each other. I am forever grateful for the Clemson Rally Cat dance team and the all of the girls who have changed my life forever.” - Mattie Lee, AC ‘18
Fun Facts about Mattie:
- Childhood trend you miss? I was a huge fan of the gaucho movement and owned every single color imaginable. What’s not to love about being comfy and fashionable at the same time?
- Fav quote? “Everything happens for a reason.” –everyone’s mom; From the earliest I can remember, my mom has always told me this. Life is so unpredictable and confusing at times, but I have learned to just go with the flow with this quote always in the back of my mind. Life is meant to have easy and difficult times. We only have one to life to live, but if you do it right, one shot is all you need.
- Funny childhood memory? I have always been an extroverted and social person even when I was little. On the first day of Kindergarten, I wanted to make new friends just like most kids. But, instead of asking to play or introducing myself, I decided to jump out of a bush and scare a little girl in my class. I guess I thought it was some grand entrance or something and when I think about it, it was probably one of the weirdest things a kid could have done to make friends. However, 15 years later, that girl named Mollie and I are still best friends. I guess it’s good to be a little weird sometimes!
As much as ADPi is about sisterhood, it’s also just as much about philanthropy! There’s nothing more rewarding than coming together with those you love under the common goal of working toward something bigger than yourselves. For us, Ronald McDonald House Charities provides the invaluable opportunity to love on our community, walk in the shoes of families in extreme heartache, and do our best to radiate the comforts and support of home in a time of desperate need.
“Alpha Delta Pi has opened my eyes to so many different opportunities, but my favorite of all being within the Ronald McDonald House. My freshman year, I started visiting the local house in Greenville to cook dinner and bake cookies and began to become more aware of what RMH provides to families with sick children and was so in awe of how amazing RMH really is. I was inspired to run for this position because of how much they help so many families and bring them the comfort of a home during a devastating and challenging time. Alpha Delta Pi is so involved within the Ronald McDonald House; we sponsor a room in the house and raise money for the families every year. In addition to that, we go to the house twice a month to cook dinner and desserts. My favorite part of our philanthropy is having the Ronald McDonald House so close to our campus, only 45 minutes away in Greenville. It is like a home away from home for us ADPi’s. Whenever we go to cook or bake, we are so welcomed and appreciated. We love seeing the small impact we can make by donating a few hours of our day to give back to such an amazing organization.
Being the Ronald McDonald House chair has been such a rewarding experience. I am able to work closely with the staff of the Greenville Ronald McDonald House and provide for the families as much as possible. My biggest goal for this position is to visit the hospital and meet the patients we are helping. I am so thankful for the challenges and obstacles I have faced while taking on this position because all the hard work is so worth it when you see the benefits and outcomes that come to fruition. Alpha Delta Pi has brought me so much during my time at Clemson, but having this position has been my favorite opportunity thus far.” - Audrey Kellan, AC ‘17
Fun Facts about Audrey:
- If you could eat dinner with one person, living or dead, who would you choose and why? I would choose to have dinner with my grandfather because we had the best memories while I was growing up. We would have dinner together every Thursday night.
- Dream job? My dream job is to be an orthodontist.
- Fav holiday and why? Christmas!!! I love the Christmas magic feeling and how fun and special the time of year is. I also love the decorations.