Kendall Gaspari dances on air. A University of Notre Dame graduate with a dual bachelor’s degree in neuroscience and behavior, and Spanish, she takes on the world without fear. Her path to adulthood hasn’t always been a graceful slip jig. Her type 1 diabetes made her unique, adding demands that many other students did not have. Although managing her disease was not always easy, Kendall excelled during college, never letting her health stop her.

Kendall grew up as a competitive Irish dancer, often traveling from her home in Palatine, Ill. for dance competitions. At age 13, while training for the Irish dance world championships, she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes – a shock to her and her family. Kendall had never met a person with the disease and knew little about it. Seemingly overnight, she and her family were tasked with regularly checking her blood sugar, injecting the right amount of insulin at the right time and becoming diabetes experts. That said, Kendall was not going to let type 1 diabetes stop her from pursuing her passions.

Preparing for college, Kendall knew that she would face challenges. Looking into scholarships, she found the Diabetes Scholars Foundation and its many scholarships for high school seniors with type 1 diabetes, including the Lilly Diabetes Tomorrow’s Leaders scholarship, and immediately applied. After being named a recipient by the Diabetes Scholars Foundation, Kendall was thrilled to have the foundation’s encouragement in addition to that of her family and friends. Entering Notre Dame, Kendall felt a weight lifted from her shoulders and was able to focus on enjoying school and managing her health.

“The financial support of a Diabetes Scholars Foundation scholarship was really important to me,” Kendall says. “To anyone considering applying, I’d say that it is definitely something you should do. It changed things for me and my family and helped to ensure that managing my type 1 diabetes remained second nature, never standing in my way.”

Throughout college, Kendall felt empowered by the Diabetes Scholars Foundation to never let her disease limit her experience. She was a member of the Irish dance team and the campus programming committee, managing student activities like concerts. She made managing the disease her top priority. She worked with an endocrinologist to ensure her A1C and academic goals stayed on track. She eventually moved off campus so she could cook her own meals, enabling more control over her diet.

After graduation, she began working full-time at the Walsh Research Institute, an internationally recognized expert on biochemical imbalances. Kendall focuses her work on nutrient therapies for a variety of disorders such as autism, schizophrenia, pyrrole disorder and depression. She remains committed to the diabetes community and has run the “Love the Run You’re With” 5k alongside other people with type 1 diabetes.

As Kendall looks to her future, she is determined surpass her goals. Though some days are challenging, managing the disease has become second nature, allowing her to focus on excelling at her new job and life as a new graduate. Kendall has fully embraced her independence – and she’s ready to groove into the next phase of her life.