People of Georgian: Student’s struggle with diabetes inspires program choice
June 17, 2022

What’s your story?

The Georgian community is full of unique, inspiring perspectives —and we’re sharing them as part of an ongoing series.

People of Georgian: Meet Jolene Marriott

When you first get diagnosed with this, it feels like the end of the world.

But now I can kind of see the light and it’s like, “Yeah, I will have to live with this for the rest of my life, but I can manage it.”

A person with long blonde hair and black sweater smiles for the camera with a small black-and-white dog.

I have Type 1 diabetes, so I’m really, really passionate about diabetes research and finding a cure.

Diabetes basically controls my life. It’s 24/7, no days off.

I wake up in the morning and take my blood sugar by pricking my finger and then a reader will tell me my levels. I also have sensors that go in my arm and then my phone can scan them and tell me my blood sugar levels.

I have to take insulin a minimum of four times a day and then take it again if my blood sugar is too high.

Diabetes basically controls my life. It’s 24/7, no days off.

Jolene Marriott

My food is also very regulated.

When my blood sugar levels are low or in the normal range, carbs are what brings it up. So each meal, I should be eating 60 to 100 carbs to take insulin with, and then a snack would be 30 carbs and I don’t have to take insulin with it.

I got diagnosed when I was 12. For the first couple years, it was really hard for me.

I started going to support groups at the hospital and just getting connected with different educators and even people that have diabetes.

I joined a group called Utopolis, which is kind of just like a bunch of kids that have autoimmune diseases and you can kind of chat with them and get extra support.

‘One day it just struck me – that’s not fair’

When I was 15, I was getting bullied by someone saying things like, “You can’t do this or you shouldn’t be doing that because you have diabetes.”

They also said I ate too much sugar, as if that caused my diabetes, but that’s not the case for Type 1 diabetes. My pancreas just decided to shut down.

The bullying made me a little upset and one day it just struck me – that’s not fair; I’m the same person that you are.

It made me want to dive deeper into diabetes research, be more educated about it, and stick up for myself.

A person with long brown hair, black sweater, pants, brown shows, and backpack slung over right shoulder, stands on a rocky waterfront with green trees in the background.

Choosing Georgian to make a difference

One day I was talking with my social worker about it all, and she opened up my mind to how a college program could help me advocate for people like me.

That’s why I’m taking the program right now because I want to work with people who have diabetes. I want to help as many people as I possibly can.

Jolene Marriott, student in the Social Service Worker program at Georgian’s South Georgian Bay Campus.