I didn’t want to like her. It had been a week since I left the hospital after being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. I was 14 and I wanted to be in school with my friends instead of at the Joslin Diabetes Center. In fact, I was pretty miserable going into the first meeting with my new nurse, Ashley Atkins. I didn’t want to listen to anything she had to say. Her positive personality and ever-present smile, however, made it impossible not to. Right from the start, I could tell Ashley was invested in me. While she cared about my blood sugar levels, she also wanted to know what sport I played and how I spent my time. I sat in her office that day, and she helped me figure out how to deal with diabetes while making sure that the every day stayed as normal as possible. When I left, I felt as if someone understood me, and that maybe the whole diabetes problem was not going to ruin my life after all. During hour-long appointments every six months for the past four years, Ashley has shown me how to balance food and insulin; her guidance has helped me keep my blood glucose at an ideal level. She also has been available to my family and me whenever my numbers are problematic and medications need adjusting, or when things are just not going well. Ashley even wrote me a recommendation to Harvard, and I am convinced that her letter made a difference in my acceptance. I honestly believe I would not have gotten through the past four years as easily as I have without Ashley in my life. She has made this relentless condition manageable for me.
—Nominated by Tommy Kelley