In 2009, Julie Marcus was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. A junior in high school at the time, she immediately became involved with the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA). Two years later as a freshman at Villanova, she was interested in making a greater impact and developing a leadership-role within the foundation. She then applied to CCFA's National Council of Collegiate Leaders, a group made up of 20 student leaders from colleges across the U.S.
Now a senior nursing student in the alternate program, Julie recognizes how the CCFA has given her a new perspective on health care.
“As a member of this council, I've come to know the many concerns and battles of patients from around the nation, fighting inflammatory bowel disease. This new understanding will help me be a more empathetic, well-informed nurse,” she says.
The group works all year long to advocate for youth affected by inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Their work includes projects, meetings at local chapters and a recently launched website called Campus Connection. The new, interactive site is geared towards college students providing resources that focus on overcoming obstacles and improving the quality of life of college students with IBD. With links to connect to Facebook and news about fundraising events in different regions, the site also aims to connect and empower young adults experiencing these diseases.
Members on the council are currently piloting a college transition program. This program focuses on high school and college students. It consists of a presentation by the council member where experiences are shared, followed by a question and answer session with a medical professional. Julie hosted her own program at Temple University last week, noting “It was an amazing experience to share my story and bring the attendees together. I think everyone left the program that night feeling that they’re not alone in the fight, and knowing that they have resources!”
Julie has truly enjoyed advocating for youth, sharing her story, and offering advice to young people with IBD.
“It's exciting to know that as a nurse, I can address these concerns every day,” she explains, “and apply all that I have learned from the CCFA to the care of my patients.”
Julie hopes to head back to the area of her hometown in Bethesda, Md. after graduation and work as a pediatric nurse in Washington, D.C.
Looking to the future, Julie explains, “I know the effect that nurses can have on the life of any patient and through my work with the CCFA, I've come to understand the profound effect that I might one day have on my patients.”