Zag student turns diabetes into inspiration

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by JENICA VILLAMOR & KREM.com

KREM.com

Posted on September 15, 2013 at 6:09 PM

Updated Sunday, Sep 15 at 6:23 PM

SPOKANE, Wash. --  Mckenzie Horner, 20, was diagnosed with diabetes last year.  She admitted it has been tough to deal with, but she is not letting it slow her down. 

The Gonzaga student hopes she will be able to turn her difficulty into something helpful for others.

"I wasn't going to let diabetes stop me from doing anything I wanted to do," Mckenzie said.

Mckenzie plays on the school’s rugby team.  She recalled how it feels when her blood sugar gets too low on the field.

“"I start shutting down, get a lot slower…the field starts shaking,” said Mckenzie.

Before, during, and after practices she relies on insulin pumps.  The electrical engineering student said living with the disease is rough.

"I had to figure a lot of things on my own.  It was very difficult,” Mckenzie added.  “I felt alone at times."

Since being diagnosed, Mckenzie said she now hopes to use her degree to make and improve a device that both checks and delivers the correct amount of insulin to a diabetic.  In the short term, she also decided to start a campus diabetes group to help students connect and find the resources they need.

"It's nice having someone else with an insulin pump - you just have that connection,” said Mckenzie.  “I think having a group where at least you know a few other people on campus can be very beneficial."

The junior hopes her efforts make a difference and that eventually, she can live without the disease.

"I want other people to have that same opportunity, and I want to make it my life goal to work for a cure and things that will help with diabetes."

Horner hoped to start the new campus group in the coming weeks.

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