Weighing Heavy On Society

By Savannah Gray


Malayne Mascaro savors her last bite of baklava as she finishes her last meal in Greece. Mascaro, a junior at Louisiana State University, had just completed a month-long study abroad program.

While in Greece, Mascaro said she tried every food offered to her and indulged in her favorite Greek meals every day. It wasn’t until the end of the trip, when her clothes were a little too tight, that Mascaro realized something was wrong.

When Mascaro arrived back home in New Orleans, La., she immediately stepped on a scale. Peeking through one eye, she saw that she was 15 pounds heavier. Instantly, Mascaro decided it was time to adopt a healthier lifestyle.

Obesity is no longer in the closet. A report from fitness.gov states that in the early 1970s 15 percent of adults were obese. Today, that number has more-than doubled. The center for disease control and prevention states that 34.9 percent of adults are obese.

The state with the lowest obesity rate is Colorado at 20.5 percent. The state with the highest obesity rate is Louisiana at 34.7 percent. Although obesity can be found in every state, the top three most obese states are all located in the South. Shellie Dore, a registered dietician nutritionist and food-management instructor at LSU, said no single factor explains why obesity rates are higher in the South. Some people might assume that the culture and cuisine the South is famous for would be the main contributor, but Dore disagrees.

“I think many factors contribute to the high obesity rates in the South,” Dore said. “It’s not just the culture and the cuisine, although we do like to eat, and do not just eat to live. But, you have to also consider things like logistics, education and economic resources.”

One factor getting a lot of attention lately is poverty. Families living below the poverty line are forced to buy cheaper, highly processed goods. Also, areas that are populated by low-income families typically do not have neighborhood grocery stores close-by. Therefore, these families rely on walking to gas stations and convenience stores to buy their groceries.

In an article addressing why the South’s obesity rate is so high, Time magazine stated that the South has a poverty rate of 14 percent, making it the most impoverished region in the nation.

To further support how poverty affects obesity rates, fitness.gov declared that nearly 45 percent of all children living in poverty are obese. In households with incomes four times greater than the poverty level, only 22 percent of children are obese.

Although obesity rates are on the rise, this trend can be slowed down. Dore said that one key to adopting a healthy lifestyle is to make small changes. For instance, white to wheat, 2-percent milk to skim milk and so forth.

Nutrition is only one part of the obesity epidemic. The other side to combating obesity is fitness. Lorilin Braymer, owner of Yoglates Studio in Baton Rouge, La., has been working in the fitness industry for 29 years. Braymer stressed that people looking to lose weight must do more than just eat healthy.

“Eating healthy is better for you than not doing anything at all with fitness, but the two go hand-in-hand,” Braymer said. “Staying fit is a lifestyle, not a trend.”

In the 29 years Braymer has worked in the fitness industry, she has only operated in the South. Braymer was not surprised when told Louisiana has an obesity rate of 34.7 percent. Although she agrees that many factors influence obesity, she touched most on the poverty factor.

“Louisiana has one of the worst public education systems in the country,” Braymer said. “Some reports indicate that higher-educated people tend to be more self-motivated. People who are self-motivated tend to take better care of themselves. Makes one wonder if this could be a vicious cycle.”

Braymer believes that physical education classes in schools should be improved. She would like to see physical education classes offered for two semesters instead of one. Braymer would also like schools to begin physical education in pre-k.

Braymer believes these changes could help children learn early in life how to take care of their bodies. The most important change she would make in schools would be to tailor the education system for students that are gifted in the physical fitness area.

“We have failed to ‘grade’ those students who may not test as well, but are exceedingly successful in a particular sport or have a true physical gift or talent,” Braymer said. “We need to evaluate the total, complete formation of the student, and this should include academics as well as social skills and physical strength/talents.”

Being a student athlete requires tremendous dedication. Often, athletes have strict diets and intense workout sessions.

Paige Bahnsen, LSU junior and former tennis player for LSU, agreed that being a college athlete is hard. However, she said the hardest part was when she quit the team and adopted a new lifestyle. Bahnsen said she kept eating like an athlete, but stopped working out as one.

While Bahnsen was a member of the LSU tennis team, she said she was restricted on what she could eat during tennis season and even off-season. The team had a certified dietician that worked closely with the players.

“The demand on our bodies was outrageous, and eating smart and healthy was a major contributor on how we performed,” Bahnsen said.

Once Bahnsen quit the team, she said she began to enjoy the foods she had not eaten, butmissed while she was a competing athlete. Bahnsen said after she began to eat the foods she had missed, the weight gain began quickly. Around a year after indulging, Bahnsen realized she needed a change.

“I was very depressed, unhappy with my appearance and I lost a lot of self confidence,” Bahnsen said. “One day I basically just decided that it was time for a change.”

Instead of picking a popular diet, Bahnsen adopted a lifestyle change. Bahnsen said she started slow by shrinking her portion size. Next, she added exercise back into her life. And eventually, Bahnsen cut out all fast food and began preparing her own meals.

Since Mascaro returned from Greece, she has also started a healthy lifestyle change. Over the past few months, Mascaro has lost 15 pounds. Her journey to lose weight also began with small changes.

Mascaro is studying dietetics at LSU. Although Mascaro studies nutrition on a day-to-day basis, she said she still struggles with the tempting food offered in the South.

“In Louisiana, food is our culture,” Mascaro said. “Everything surrounds food here, from family gatherings to red beans and rice on Mondays. You can’t avoid food in Louisiana.”

Mascaro stressed the importance of food as a fuel source instead of as a comfort. For instance, it is not uncommon for families to eat dinner while watching television. Mascaro said this is a dangerous habit to fall into because it can quickly lead to mindless eating.

As an aspiring nutritionist, Mascaro said she is concerned about the increasing obesity rate. Mascaro said she looks forward to informing clients, as well as friends and family, about the dangers of obesity so they might help educate others on this dangerous epidemic.

“Obesity is slowly killing our population,” Mascaro said. “It is one of the worst diseases because nutritionists and doctors can’t help these people; they have to want to help themselves first.”

 Below is a voiced slideshow I created for one of the main characters in my paper: 

Malayne Mascaro’s Weight-Loss Journey



Disney Dreams in Real Life

By: Savannah Gray


Molly North joyfully listens to the sound of fireworks outside. Although she is inside at work in the Emporium, the Walt Disney World main gift shop, North is gleeful just listening to the sound from the fireworks.

North said she never got disappointed on the nights she missed the firework show because of work. She loved her job and the program she was a part of. North, along with more than 8,000 collegians, was an intern for the Disney College Program.

The Disney College Program was established in 1981, and in the beginning was limited to students from about 20 colleges in the United States. Interns of the program were limited to working only at the Magic Kingdom Park in Walt Disney World, which is located in Lake Buena Vista, F.L.

The program has grown tremendously, and today, both Disney parks, Walt Disney World and Disneyland in Anaheim, C.A., participate in the program. Over 300 universities now offer the program to students.

The program is a semester-long paid internship. Participants get on-the-job experience through a variety of positions. Students can choose to work in operations, lodging, food and beverage, retail and sales, recreation and entertainment.

Along with on-the-job experience, students also participate in on-site Disney Education Courses. Students tailor their learning by picking the classes they wish to take. Some students even receive credit from their university.

North picked corporate analysis for her Disney Education Course. In that class, North learned about the decisions Disney makes, why Disney makes them and if past choices proved beneficial or harmful.

North said she loved learning in the classroom, but the most important lesson she learned came from her on-the-job experience at the Emporium.

“The most important lesson I learned was to take advantage of every opportunity you have with guests,” North said. “Guests travel from all over the world to visit Disney. They save up for years to bring their children to this magical place.”

“Guests expect to leave all worries back home. They want a positive, relaxing vacation, and it was my job to create happiness and make magic every single day.”

North only stayed in the Disney College Program for one semester. Once she finished the program, North declined the opportunity to stay for another semester or apply for a professional internship.

North said she was sad to leave the program, but also anxious to get back to Louisiana State University and begin her senior year.

Although North’s time with the Disney College Program is over, Lindsey Bennett, a graduating senior at LSU, is just beginning her journey.

Bennett will gradate from LSU in May with a degree in mass communication. Unlike many graduates who continue their education or take a job right after college, Bennett decided she wanted to take a different path, which included the Disney College Program. .

She decided to apply to the program as a graduating senior because she could not bear to miss one semester at LSU.

“I’ve always been interested in the Disney College Program, but I never felt like I could leave LSU,” Bennett said. “I felt that as a graduating senior this was a chance I should take advantage of while I’m young and have fewer responsibilities.”

The Disney College Program offers participants a wide variety of positions. Bennett said she is excited to hold the position of Character Attendant. The main responsibility of this position is to assist the volunteers who are dressed up as Disney characters.

“Meeting your favorite characters for the first time is such a memorable experience,” Bennett said. “I’m so excited that I get to see the magic happen close-up.”

Bennett said she is not sure if she’ll extend her stay when she has finished her semester. Along with the Disney College Program, Disney offers professional internships. Bennett said she is strongly considering applying for a professional internship when her Disney College Program is complete.

Bennett laughed, and said, “I know that I have to go to the real world eventually, but I’d like to put that off for as long as possible.”

Bennett’s end-goal is to obtain a job with Disney. She said that working for Disney could lead to many opportunities within the Disney Company including ABC, Marvel and Walt Disney Productions. Bennett’s not sure which job she wants as of yet, but she knows she wants to stay with Disney.

Bennett said she believes her time at Disney will help her narrow her focus and find a job she is truly passionate about.

Although Bennett would like to work for Disney, North said her dream job is to be a speech-language pathologist.

Even though North does not plan to return to Disney for work, she is always encouraging students to give the program a try.

“I am thankful for the opportunity I had at the Disney College Program every single day,” North said. “It inspired me to share my experiences with others. I want other college students to know about the amazing opportunity that is available for them.”

North said her experience was extremely positive and that she would not make any changes to the program.

“Even if I did have an idea of something that could be changed, I’m sure Disney is already addressing the issue because that’s just how Disney works,” North said. “Disney is always ten steps ahead!”

North continues to keep in touch with the friends she met at the program. She said her experience is one that she hopes every participant will have.

“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity, an amazing learning experience and a work experience like no other,” North said. “I will forever be thankful for the memories and friends I made there. I hope all students in the program experience the joy and magic that I did.”

View an interactive timeline on the Disney College Program: http://www.dipity.com/savannahdg/Disney-College-Program/

To Greek Or Not To Greek

By: Savannah Gray

Lyndsay Neel

Lyndsay Neel was anxious and uncertain. She stared at her bid card and struggled to decide in which order to rank the last three sorority houses she had visited.

“If you don’t turn your bid card in within the next 30 seconds you’re not going to be Greek,” warned Angela Guillory, the Louisiana State University director of Greek Life. Neel quickly ranked the last three sorority houses and turned in her bid card. Her anxiety intensified as she went back to her apartment to wait out the next 24 hours for the LSU sorority bid day announcements.

By the next morning, Neel, exhausted from the constant “what if” scenarios she played in her mind received her bid card telling her which sorority she now belonged to. Neel saw Delta Gamma, her first choice on her bid card, and her exhaustion turned to euphoria as a feeling of acceptance settled over her.

Neel had become part of one of the largest Greek systems in the United States. LSU has 13 sororities and 20 fraternities. The 2012-2013 LSU Greek Life annual report states there were 4,858 fraternity and sorority members that academic year.

Members of Greek organizations perceive many benefits. Neel said she believes more good than bad comes from being a member of a Greek organization.

However, Neel mentioned that larger Greek systems like LSU have more risk factors than smaller Greek systems because of their size. The larger the system, the more opportunities exist for problems.

One of the problems Elizabeth Newell, assistant director of Greek Life at LSU, believes is facing the LSU Greek community is its social climate, or its reputation for the party scene.

Although most LSU students, Greek or not, participate in the Baton Rouge social scene, Newell said the LSU Greek groups have organized social functions that draw more attention than other Greek activities such as philanthropy, community service and building positive relationships.

However, Newell believes being a part of a Greek organization has many benefits. The main benefit she enjoys is the lifelong bonds created with others.

“I think everyone needs a place where they feel accepted, motivated, accountable and successful,” Newell said. “Our Greek community offers some of the best places to accomplish this.”

Newell herself experienced both the positives and negatives of Greek Life when she was a college student and member of a Greek organization at the University of Southern Mississippi.  She entered a career in Greek Life so she could make a more positive difference in Greek communities.

“I am the product of a broken Greek community with a Greek Life office that was viewed as enforcers rather than advisors and educators,” Newell said.

“I decided to make it my purpose to create an environment valued and utilized by students. My Greek experience changed my life for the better, and it is my hope to share much of what I’ve learned over the years with our community.”

Newell has been working with LSU Greek Life for almost one year and has already experienced LSU welcome a brand new sorority, Alpha Phi. One of the main reasons LSU added another sorority was to help the existing sororities keep their numbers from becoming unmanageable.

“We are growing at an incredible rate,” Newell said. “Currently 22 percent of the undergraduate population at LSU is Greek, and we attest this to the incredible positive environment the Greek community and our office have worked hard to establish.”

Greek Life at LSU is a lot larger and different from when LSU alumna Janet Vidrine, of Baton Rouge, experienced it. Vidrine pledged Delta Gamma sorority at LSU in 1981. When she went through recruitment the chapter size of each sorority varied, and four sororities did not meet quota, meaning they did not recruit the maximum number allowed.

LSU’s 2013 fall recruitment resulted in every sorority meeting quota, and thus over 900 women were welcomed into the LSU sororities. The chapter sizes of each sorority no longer vary, with the exception of Alpha Phi, the most recent sorority.

Since pledging Delta Gamma in 1981, Vidrine has remained involved with the sorority, including fall recruitment activities.

Immediately upon graduating in 1985, Vidrine has been active in the Delta Gamma alumnae group.

Vidrine believes alumni involvement could help diminish the negative behavior of some Greek members.

“Many Greek organizations have wonderful programs in place to combat bad behavior, but the local alumni need to be trained to help the collegians,” Vidrine said. “Collegiate chapters need more alumni support in the form of advisors.”

Vidrine suggested the negative behavior of Greek members is emphasized more today than when she was a member.

“The majority of Greeks do the right thing, but today, with social media and 24-hour news, the bad behavior makes the front page all over the world,” Vidrine said.

Vidrine was quick to mention the more positive aspects that come from joining a Greek organization. She said her greatest benefit from joining a sorority is the connections she has made with like-minded women of all ages.

Although most connections tend to be formed within the first year of joining a sorority, Neel made connections her sophomore year because she did not go through recruitment as a freshman.

Neel was able to experience college life with and without a Greek influence. She said she was involved in many organizations her freshman year in college, but still felt something was missing. Neel said entering the Greek community was one of the best decisions she has made.

“I am honored to be a part of something so amazing,” Neel said. “This is what has driven me to become so involved in Greek Life. I wanted to give back to a community that has given me so much.”

Neel will graduate from LSU this May. She said her biggest selling point to anyone who is considering joining a Greek organization is that being Greek helped her grow as a leader and develop as a person.

“Being Greek doesn’t make you better than the next person,” Neel said. “It just makes you better than the person you were before.”

View an interactive pie chart displaying the number of members in each sorority at LSU: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/pub?key=0ApmFzpfTZ4e0dHFSZmUzWkFZZl9mSWZXZWFWVE1lY3c&single=true&gid=1&output=html






By: Emily Reaux

An 8-7 vote decided the future for Southern University’s Chancellor James Llorens. The university’s Board of Supervisors met for a second time Monday night in Baton Rouge. According to Ed Pratt with Southern’s Media Relations Department, Llorens did not agree to the restrictions on his contract proposed by the university’s president, Ronald Mason. Pratt says Mason’s proposal gave him more authority over the Baton Rouge campus than before, in turn, taking authority away from Chancellor Llorens. Pratt also says Mason felt he was asking for what a president is entitled to ask for while Llorens doesn’t agree.

The board initially discussed Mason’s proposal and Lloren’s contract at a meeting on February 7th in Shreveport. At the meeting, the board voted 9-6 in favor of Mason, giving Llorens a few months time left as chancellor. This decision sparked outrage over the Southern community and within hours, students at the university were organizing a protest. A lot of the backlash was taken to social media with posts and pictures supporting Llorens.

Three days after the initial meeting, students, faculty, staff and other members of the community held a public meeting at the Smith Brown Memorial Union on Southern’s campus. Signs and posters along with t-shirts were made in support of Llorens.  At this meeting, it was decided the students’ voices need to be heard and a sit-in was put in place.

Early the next day, until that afternoon, students sat on the floors of the J.S. Clark Building on campus in protest of the board’s decision not to renew Llorens’ contract. Although, students who had class that morning did leave to attend class but returned to the sit-in after class.  At 4:30 that afternoon, an impromptu press conference was called. The board chairman announced then that the board would review Llorens’ contract a second time during a special meeting on February 24, 2014. However, after the meeting Monday night, the board came to the same conclusion, marking June 30, 2014 as Llorens’ last day as Southern University’s Chancellor.

However, the students are still holding out for a change of heart. Many are saying they aren’t giving up and will continue to rally together to support Llorens. They say in just three years, the chancellor has done so much, changing the university for the better.

As the conversation continues over social media, names and phone numbers have been released of the board members. Now students are taking it a step further in contacting the board members directly. Some even wrote emails and made phone calls to Governor Bobby Jindal’s office asking for him to intervene. With this much persistence from students and the Southern community, many wonder why the board is letting go of the man in the first place.


Timeline of Events:


“As the pile went up in flames while I was on top, I watched, in what seemed like slow motion, as the fire surrounded me. I knew I was in trouble,” Alex Kearney said.

Kearney, 20, is an LSU junior with a major in marketing.  While in high school, he suffered a serious burn that played a large role in shaping him into who he is today.

In the summer of 2010, Kearney was at a Fourth of July party when a spark from an ember changed his life forever.  He was attempting to start a bonfire with gasoline when some fumes ignited; the entire pile went into flames with Kearney on top.

“To this day I don’t remember how I got out,” Kearney said.  “It all happened so fast, and I am blessed that I was able to get out of the fire without getting stuck or stumbling on a stick.”

At first, the severity of the accident was uncertain.  When Kearney’s family was informed that he was going to the hospital, they did not realize how bad the accident was.

“My oldest son got on the phone and told me that it didn’t look too bad and that Alex was walking to the ambulance,” Alex’s father, Kevin Kearney, said.  “He was wrong.”

It was not until Alex arrived at the emergency room that people began to understand the seriousness of what happened.

When Alex arrived at the emergency room, it was discovered by the doctors that he had second-degree burns covering more than 30 percent of his body.  He also had traces of gasoline in his windpipe.  He was in the burn unit for two weeks and had months of recovery after being released.

However, when everything seemed to be falling apart, Alex came through the fire and persevered.

“In the midst of my injury, I knew that moping around and being sad would have only caused more problems,” Alex said.  “It was one of those ‘rise above’ kind of moments that defines who you are.  I wasn’t going to let it beat me.”

Alex had to relearn how to do everyday responsibilities, which was humbling.  The simple task of sitting up and brushing his teeth became a difficult one.

“I had to get in a mindset to keep going and moving which gave me such a better outlook on things,” Alex said.  “I knew that I had a tough journey ahead of me, and I wasn’t going to give up.”

Many people who came to visit Alex witnessed the perseverance that he was displaying.

“He worked very hard to heal as quickly as possible.  He was extremely dedicated to getting back to normal,” Kevin, said.  “It was very inspiring for a father to see his son rise to the occasion with no complaining at all.”

Within a few hours of the accident, news had spread about Alex’s accident and people began to come together for support.  Hundreds of people came to the burn unit during the first few days to comfort Alex and his family.

“The waiting room at the ER was always full of friends and family there to support him,” Alex’s brother, Drew Kearney, said. “Most times, they never got to see him because only a few were allowed back to the room at a time.”

Alex felt the love and support from his family and friends and was able to channel those feelings into motivation.

“My family grew so close while I went through this,” Alex said.  “They were there for me the entire time, and they were so supportive.”

However, the bad news was that the initial accident was just the beginning.  The therapy and recovery were going to be the most painful elements of the process.

Every day, the wounds needed to be cleaned.  This meant the burns would be unwrapped and he would be brought to the tub room where they scrubbed the wounds in order to escape infection.  The amount of pain from this procedure gave Alex immense anxiety and frustration.

The bathing process took place every morning.  It was such an unbearable procedure for Alex that he began to dread the mornings.

“I was unable to go to bed at night because I didn’t want to wake up,” Alex said.  “The nurses had to move my baths to nights so that I could sleep without fear of the morning.”

The therapy was also a long and strenuous process.  Alex had to do therapy each day he spent in the burn unit to regain movement.  In order for the skin to grow back properly, he had to bend his joints and put pressure on his legs.  In doing this, all the blood rushed to his legs and triggered serious nerve pain.

Although this was a trying time in Alex’s life, he continued to have a positive outlook on things and, in turn, allowed him to learn valuable life lessons.

“This whole process has made me happier to be where I am today, and it has made me stronger,” Alex said.  “It helped me learn to not take anything for granted.  This life is a gift.”

A few weeks following Alex’s release from the hospital, he was able to return to school.  However, it was a day-to-day trial for him.  Some days he was able to make it for a majority of the day, while other days he could only stay for an hour or two before the pain was overbearing.

Alex and his family still struggle with reliving the experiences that took place in the summer of 2010. A summer of trials and burdens ultimately became a summer that brought the family closer together.

Even though the fire accident is tough to relive, Alex Kearney uses his story to help people going through trials today.  He is able to share his testimony with his friends and encourage them in different areas of their lives.

“Going through that experience has helped me learn that I can do anything that I set my mind to,” Kearney said.  “You can’t always control the situation you’ve been put in, but you can always control how you handle it.”


View a timeline of the events following Alex’s accident.


Good sugar-level

Taking the Die Out Of Diabetes

By Savannah Gray

Marissa Liantonio sits up in her bed at the behest of a familiar beep. It’s 12:40 a.m., and Marissa’s attached glucose monitor has signaled her blood sugar is too low.

The LED screen on her glucose monitor displays 55, and Marissa instantly knows she needs sugar. She grabs a Juicy Juice box drink off her nightstand and finishes it before falling back to sleep.

Marissa was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 18. She is now 22, a graduate of Louisiana State University and dealing with her condition on a daily basis.

According to Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), as many as 3 million Americans have Type 1 diabetes. JDRF estimates 80 Americans are diagnosed each day.

Type 1 diabetes is the result of insulin no longer being produced by a person’s pancreas. Insulin is essential for people to metabolize energy from food.

Although research on Type 1 diabetes is advancing, a cure has yet to be found.

When Marissa was diagnosed, she said she was in shock and confused. Although her grandfather has Type 1 diabetes, Marissa could not understand why or how she got the disease.

Marissa’s sister, Gianna Liantonio, said she handled Marissa’s diagnosis worse than Marissa did.

“I was an emotional wreck at first,” Gianna said. “Marissa stayed strong, but her diagnosis really challenged my emotions. I tried to help and be assisting, but whenever Marissa got frustrated, it was hard for me to not tear up.”

A small smile appeared on Gianna’s face as she explained she is much better at dealing with Marissa’s disease today.

Gianna laughed, and said whenever Marissa’s blood sugar drops she is there to offer Marissa some candy.

Marissa’s parents were also as shocked as Gianna and Marissa. Immediately after her diagnosis, Marissa’s mom started buying sugar-free snacks and drinks believing these were the best options for Marissa.

However, living with diabetes for over three years has taught Marissa and her family that consuming too much artificial sweetener is bad for your health.

“All of our lifestyles have changed for the better in that we are simply more aware of what we put in our bodies,” Marissa said. “I have to count carbohydrates and watch my portion control, so in turn, my family usually does the same.”

If people with Type 1 diabetes do not take care of themselves by watching what they eat and monitoring their glucose levels, they run the risk of experiencing kidney failure, nerve damage, blindness, loss of a limb or even death.

Even though a cure has not been found, Marissa is appreciative for the advanced technology offered today.

Marissa’s grandfather had multiple complications due to his Type 1 diabetes; he lost a limb and his eyesight.

“It is totally different to be diagnosed with diabetes now than it was when he was diagnosed,” Marissa said. “Synthetic insulin wasn’t invented until 1922. If you were diagnosed before that time diabetes was a death sentence. It is so overwhelming to think that my now manageable disease used to be so dangerous.”

Marissa has a daily routine by which she manages her diabetes. First, she pricks her finger for blood three to four times a day to measure her blood-glucose level. Next, she achieves the balance of insulin she needs through the pump she wears all day. Lastly, she counts carbohydrates and tries to exercise regularly.

Although Marissa said she monitors her diabetes closely, living with diabetes is still scary for her.

“The hardest part is the unknown,” Marissa said. “Even if I exercise and eat really well I could still have a high blood sugar, which can ultimately cause complications.”

During her time at LSU, Marissa was a member of numerous clubs and was a vice president for Delta Gamma sorority for two years.

Marissa is used to holding leadership positions and taking charge of situations. Therefore, Marissa said she struggles with not being able to take charge of her body.

“I am very much a control freak, so it’s very hard for me to accept that I can’t always control my sugars,” Marissa said.

Although Marissa can get aggravated when she struggles to manage her sugars, Marissa said she strives to live optimistically.

“In the grand scheme of life, diabetes is a manageable disease, and I can live with it. Not every chronic disease is like that, obviously,” Marissa said. “The complications of Type 1 diabetes are real and scary, but keeping a positive attitude makes my disease not so hard.”

Some people might think a disease like diabetes brings more negative than positive; however, this is not the case with Marissa.

“Diabetes changed my life for the better,” Marissa said. “I am so passionate about living a healthy lifestyle with this disease.”

Marissa said having diabetes has also inspired her career choice. She believes if it were not for her diagnosis she would have made the wrong career decision.

Marissa wants to be a registered nurse and a certified diabetic educator. With this career, Marissa will work with newly diagnosed patients to help them manage their diabetes and find a routine that fits their lifestyle.

She also wants to start a community outreach program through which she would educate the community on diabetes and how to prevent Type 2 diabetes.

Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes are completely different diseases. Researchers have not yet found a cause for Type 1 diabetes.

WebMD states the two main causes for Type 2 diabetes are obesity and a lack of physical activity.

The next step for Marissa is nursing school in New Orleans. After graduating from nursing school, Marissa will take the necessary steps to become a certified diabetic educator.

Although Marissa doesn’t have her certification yet, she’s already touched the lives of recently diagnosed children in New Orleans and Baton Rouge by meeting with them through JDRF.

Marissa said she is excited about what comes next. She looks forward to learning more about her disease and helping others along the way.

“I am so passionate about being an advocate for people with diabetes, and this job is a perfect avenue for that,” Marissa said. “Meeting and connecting with other people with diabetes is always a great experience for me, and having the opportunity to make that my career is simply amazing.”

Testing blood-glucose

By: Desiree Maduro

Daniel is the best friend any man could have. He is sweet, caring and loving; but what has defined him has been his violent past as a bait-dog.

“I couldn’t believe it, I’ve never seen anything like that,” said Abby Knight after seeing several photographs of Daniel’s wounds.

Knight said she felt compelled and decided to take Daniel home with her, where he is awaiting to get adopted.

However, Daniel has not been the only dog in the Capital City known for being involved in the booming business of dog fighting. Animal Control Director Hilton Cole said dog fighting is an everyday problem.

According to the Humane Society there are approximately 40,000 professional fighters in the United States, but felony charges could be given to those who are caught dog fighting or even spectating.

“We are not proactive, instead we are reactive,” said Cole. “We want to protect the animal, but we can’t control how people treat man’s best friend.

Pitbulls like Daniel are the most common dogs used for the violent hobby of dog fighting.

Learn more about Daniel’s journey as a true fighter.