Below is the current list of National Youth Leadership Council (NCCL) members. To learn more about each of the members, just click on their name to see their brief biography as well as a Q&A about their experiences with the NCCL.
- School: UCLA
- Major: Political Science
- Hometown: San Jose, California
Hi friends! My name is Amy Bugwadia, and I'm a sophomore at UCLA studying Political Science (with a minor in Disability Studies) on the Pre-Med track in the hopes of pursuing a career in the healthcare policy field. I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at the age of ten, in the midst of fifth grade. After years of silence, embarrassment, and resentment about my disease, my freshman year of high school, I met someone who was recently diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. Being able to share my story with him completely changed my perspective and showed me that our purpose as patients is to provide support to one another in a positive way. I got involved in the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation the following year as the 2014 Silicon Valley Honored Hero and started a Take Steps team called "Hope. Wish. Dream."
I'm excited to continue my involvement in IBD education, support, and advocacy efforts in the greater Los Angeles area. I'm currently a contributing writer to a blog for Connecting to Cure Crohn's and Colitis, a local LA-based non-profit focused on supporting IBD patients and their caregivers. I am blessed to have the opportunity to study my illness in a research setting as an Undergraduate Research Assistant in the UCLA Center for Digestive Diseases IBD Research Labs. I'm also extensively involved in my local Los Angeles Foundation chapter, serving on the committee for the spin4 crohn's and colitis cures Los Angeles event as well as speaking at patient education conferences.
I have loved my time on the NCCL thus far, and I'm ecstatic to have the opportunity to continue these advocacy efforts with this group of passionate and resilient individuals. Having IBD has taught me the extent of my own strength as well as the strength of others around me. Being sick is not always a curse, and although it can be a true challenge, it has shown me that together, we can and will make a difference in the lives of many!
- School: Montana State University
- Major: Computer Science
- Hometown: Belgrade, Montana
Hi! My name is Dylan DeLay. I’m 18 years old and I’m currently a sophomore studying Computer Science at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana. I was wrestling when I first started getting sick. I was around eight or nine, and in one week I had dropped two weight classes. My life started to change quite a bit after that. I had to quit wrestling and I had a hard time participating in the things I liked to do after that. My mom had it, and we were pretty sure I did too. It took 2-3 years but, I was diagnosed December of 2010, when I was ten years old.
I’m thankful my mom was already a big supporter of the Crohns and Colitis Foundation because it got me involved early on. I’ve helped my mom raise over $33,000 for the Crohns and Colitis Foundation over the years. I was the 2012 National Team Challenge Honored Hero. I attended Camp Oasis for the first time in 2011, and I have gone every year since. This last year was my first year as a counselor, and I hope to continue to go as a counselor in the following years. I’m super excited to be a part of the NCCL now and all the opportunities it will bring.
I have had a lot of struggles, but this disease has given me the ability to fight through when the going gets tough. As much as it sucks, I have had many great memories that I wouldn’t have had if it wasn’t for Crohns.
Adam Koch (Iowa)
- School: Drake University
- Major: Political Science
- Hometown: Grimes, Iowa
My name is Adam Koch, and I am from Grimes, Iowa. I am a freshman at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, studying political science. After months of doctors appointments trying to figure out what was wrong, I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease at age 12. Eventually, I was able to find relief with an infusion. My Crohn's flare limited my ability to be active in soccer, something I had enjoyed pre-flare, but it introduced me to more stationary activities like filmmaking and mock trial. As an added bonus, fancy court room bathrooms happen to be way nicer than soccer field porta potties. I became more interested in filmmaking as I got older, and I decided to use it to support those in the Crohn's and colitis community through a film festival fundraising event called, Lights, Camera, Action Against Crohn's and Colitis. Through this project, I was able to connect with other local patients of all ages, and that made a significant impact on how I viewed my own situation and what I could do to further make a positive change. I am excited to see everything that the National Council of College Leaders will do to add relief and further the fight for those living with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.
Aleah DeSchmidt (Washington)
- School: University of Washington
- Major: Bioengineering
- Hometown: Snohomish, WA
- My name is Aleah and I am a sophomore at the University of Washington in Seattle. I am studying Bioengineering and hope to use this degree to work in the medical field. I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis when I was 14 after a long month of trying to figure out what was wrong. I started the SCD diet and medication. I tried a lot of different medicines over the next four years, some did not work and others I had severe reactions too. The diet helped me control my symptoms, but it was not able to keep me in remission. After that my best option was a surgery to remove my entire colon. Luckily, I had a friend from Camp Oasis who had gone through the surgery already and she was able to help prepare me and give me advice. I also had friends from camp that were on the diet who I could talk to about the struggles of being on such a restrictive diet. If I had not had them to talk to and ask for help, it would have been much more difficult. Patients can help each other so much and I want to help anyone who needs it as well. After my surgery last year, I have had an additional surgery to construct a J-Pouch to act as an internal alternative to an ostomy bag.
Amira Eissa (Rhode Island)
- School: Salve Regina University
- Major: Psychology
- Hometown: Yorktown Heights
Hi! My name is Amira Eissa, and I am a freshman at Salve Regina University studying Psychology in the hopes of pursuing a career as a therapist. I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease when I was seven years old, in second grade. Upon diagnosis my Mom and I researched all we could about my new disease and we stumbled upon the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. The Foundation introduced me to some amazing life opportunities over the past 12 years. I have participated in my local Take Steps walk every year with my own fundraising team, “Chronies for life”. I attended Camp Oasis as a camper for ten summers in a row, my home away from home! I was the Honored Hero for my local Team Challenge multiple times and was able to share my story to inspire people to fundraise and run. I did my Girl Scout Gold Award with the Foundation and raised awareness for IBD patients by educating younger Girl Scout troops and going to Health classes in my middle school. Also, I was fortunate enough to be one of the founding members of the Teen Alliance support group for my chapter my freshman year of High School.
I had the privilege of experiencing all these amazing things and meeting extraordinary people along the way. I am so grateful that I am able to add the National Council of College Leaders to this long list of achievements and can’t wait to take full advantage of this phenomenal opportunity. It is empowering how many positive outcomes can occur from an assumed negative challenge. I can’t wait to continue my advocating journey alongside my new circle of friends and find a cure for IBD. My illness has never defined me, but what I have done with my life in spite of having a chronic illness, has and always will.
Amy Bugwadia (California)
- School: University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
- Major: Political Science
- Hometown: San Jose, California
Hi! My name is Amy Bugwadia, and I'm a junior at UCLA studying Political Science and Disability Studies as a Pre-Med & Pre-Law student in the hopes of pursuing a career in the healthcare advocacy field. I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at the age of ten, in the midst of fifth grade. After years of silence, embarrassment, and resentment about my disease, my freshman year of high school, I met someone who was recently diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. Being able to share my story with him completely changed my perspective and showed me that as people personally affected by IBD, we can support one another through the good and the bad. I got involved in the Foundation the following year as the 2014 Silicon Valley Honored Hero and started a Take Steps team called "Hope. Wish. Dream."
I'm excited to continue my involvement in IBD education, support, and advocacy efforts in the Los Angeles area. I am blessed to have the opportunity to study my illness in a research setting as an Undergraduate Research Assistant in the UCLA Center for Digestive Diseases IBD Research Center. With the Greater Los Angeles Foundation chapter, I have served on the 2017 Los Angeles spin4 committee and have also spoken at local patient education conferences. With the Northern California Chapter, I've worked on a project related to developing a young adult IBD support network for recent college graduates. I've also been a Counselor at Camp Oasis in California!
As Co-Chair of the National Council of College Leaders, I'm ecstatic to have the opportunity to continue these advocacy efforts with a group of passionate and resilient individuals. Having IBD has taught me the extent of my own strength as well as the strength of others around me. Being sick is not always a curse, and although it can be a true challenge, it has shown me that together, we can and will make a difference in the lives of many!
Anna Gordon (Missouri)
- School: University of Missouri-Kansas City
- Major: Health Sciences
- Hometown: Saint Louis, MO
Hi! My name is Anna Gordon, and I am a sophomore at the University of Missouri-Kansas City majoring in Health Sciences with a minor in Public Health. I hope to pursue a career in the nonprofit world, and maybe even start my own nonprofit one day for people recently diagnosed with chronic illnesses. I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at the age of 14. The onset of my illness was acute; I underwent surgery to remove my large intestine just twelve days after my diagnosis. Currently, my disease is managed through a biologic injection that I take every other week. From the moment of my diagnosis, I knew that I wanted to help others so that no one ever had to feel as hopeless as I felt. I first got involved with the Foundation through the Take Step walks, but my passion for IBD advocacy really took off when I went to Camp Oasis for the first time in 2016. At Camp Oasis, I found hope, acceptance, and a family. Since then, I've wanted to find a way to give back to the organization that has given me so much. I am so honored to have been chosen to serve on the NCCL alongside so many other inspiring young adults, and I cannot wait to help them change the lives of those living with IBD.
Bianca Hernandez (Florida)
- School: University of Central Florida
- Major: Human Communication
- Hometown: Miami, Florida
Hi there! My name is Bianca Isabella Hernandez and I am a current Junior at the University of Central Florida majoring in Human Communication on a Health Track. In June of 2015, I began experiencing symptoms such as bloody stools and discomfort while on a weekend vacation. Since this was not “the norm”, I visited my pediatrician, which then led to a visit with a pediatric gastroenterologist. On August 6th, 2015, I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. With this life-changing news occurring at the commencement of my Junior year, I was in for a whirlwind. After participating closely with the Take Steps: Miami Team, I was certain I had a newfound passion for creating advocacy for Inflammatory Bowel Diseases. In 2016, I was awarded the Honored Hero for Take Steps: Miami as well as the Silver Knight Honorable Mention recognizing my efforts in spreading IBD awareness in my community as well as with a program I created known as GO Free. Currently, I work with the Central Florida chapter to put together events in the area. Although living with IBD comes with a plethora of “downsides”, I wouldn’t trade it in for anything in the world. My diagnosis sets me apart from others and provides me with an opportunity to advocate for others that may not be healthy enough to advocate for themselves. I am thrilled and honored to have been chosen for the council and I am extremely grateful for the continued support from my family, friends, and doctors and am so incredibly thankful for this opportunity and am excited to continue spreading awareness with others.
Caitlin Rowley (Texas)
- School: The University of Texas
- Major: Health & Society
- Hometown: Houston
Catherine Wicker (Texas)
- School: Texas State University
- Major: Public Administration
- Hometown: Austin, TX
Hello! My name is Catherine Wicker and I am delighted to have been chosen to be an NCCL member.
I am a junior at Texas State University, majoring in Public Administration with minors in Political Science Communications and Leadership Studies. In addition to the NCCL I am member of Gamma Phi Beta sorority, the Leadership Institute at Texas State, Dance Marathon and Christ Chapel.
I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis on my second day of kindergarten after several months of my mom calling the doctors telling them she was sure it was more than a virus and it wasn’t normal for a child to go to the bathroom 15 times a day or to lose that much blood. When I was 10 I had a total colectomy that was considered to be a cure. Unfortunately, I have continued to have intestinal issues and take medication daily. From day one of my diagnosis, my mom knew the best thing for me was to get involved with the CCFA so I had people that could support me while I lived with this illness. She was right; I am not sure where I would be today if she had not encouraged my participation.
Through the CCFA I have been involved with many different things including Camp Oasis, Team Challenge, Take Steps and IBD Day on the Hill four different times. I was honored to be recognized nationally by the CCFA in 2004 with the Local Hero Award. In 2005, I was delighted to be an Honored Hero for the South Texas Chapter and to attend their Winter Ball.
In 2007, I worked with three other friends and their parents to successfully pass the Texas Restroom Access Act. This Texas law allows individuals with medical conditions to have access to employee only restrooms. Watching then Governor Rick Perry sign the bill into law was one of the most thrilling moments of my life.
I am frequently asked why I have continued to take part in CCFA events for so many years. It’s simple; I want every child to experience the joys of childhood without the worries of IBD and the treatments that go along with it. I believe it is important for people with chronic illnesses to have a voice, but especially those living with IBD. I am extremely grateful for the support from my friends in NCCL and I am excited to be on the board and to continue advocating and fundraising for the CCFA so that one day we will have a cure!
Chloe Hubbe (North Carolina)
- School: Duke University
- Major: Public Policy
- Hometown: NYC
- Hi! I am currently a freshman at Duke University studying public policy. Though I am not personally affected by IBD, my efforts to find a cure are driven by my mom's struggle with Crohn's. Beginning in the summer of 2013, I started the Crohn's and Colitis Teen Group in order to work with other NYC teenagers who are passionate about finding cures for Crohn's and Colitis. Throughout high school, I was in charge of coordinating the group's meetings and initiating events. One highlight for me was when I was honored as the 2015 Rising Star at the foundation's annual Women of Distinction event. Through this experience, I was able to provide the perspective of a family member in my speech and encourage more people--not just those who have IBD--to take action. Now that I am in college, I am excited to take my efforts to the next level with the National Council of College Leaders. I am specifically looking forward to collaborating with other members who go to different schools and are from all parts of the nation! Going forward, I know that I will use my unique perspective as a family member to encourage all people--regardless of whether or not they personally have IBD--to help find cures.
Dylan Delay (Montana)
- School: Montana State University
- Major: Education
- Hometown: Bozeman
My name is Dylan DeLay, I am a junior at Montana State University and I recently switched to teaching. This was actually prompted by the time I spent as a counselor at Camp Oasis. I have been a counselor the past two years and attended as a camper every year before that since 2011. It has had a big change in my life. It motivated me to want to join the National Council of College Leaders. I'm now so proud to be a member of the council. It's been a really awesome way to further support people living with IBD. Backing up a bit; I was wrestling when I first started getting sick. I was around eight or nine, and in one week I had dropped two weight classes. My life started to change quite a bit after that. I had to quit wrestling and I had a hard time participating in the things I liked to do after that. My mom had it, and we were pretty sure I did too. It took 2-3 years but, I was diagnosed December of 2010, when I was ten years old. The Foundation and especially Camp Oasis has changed my life for the better and I'm so grateful for where it has helped get me. I have had a lot of struggles but, this disease has given me the ability to fight through when the going gets tough. As much as it sucks, I have had many great memories that I wouldn’t have had if it wasn’t for Crohns. All the people I have met and all the good experiences I have had has really made it worth it.
Emma Goodman-Fish (California)
- School: University of San Diego
- Major: Communications
- Hometown: Portland, Oregon
- I’m from Portland, Oregon and currently a freshman at the University of San Diego potentially majoring in either business administration, communications or marketing with a Pre-Law track. I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease when I was 11 years old and in sixth grade, after many endless symptoms and tests, and began treating my Crohn’s with a restrictive diet. At first, Crohn’s was something I did and didn’t want to be a part of who I was. However, this all changed when I went Camp Oasis after a difficult freshman year. The incredible IBD community opened up to me, I met some of the best people I know and found a place where I knew I wanted to make an impact. I soon became involved with the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation. I started the first Portland chapter of the youth council and planned many successful events welcoming new youth into the community, creating relationships and raising awareness. This past year, I was the Honored Hero at the Portland Take Steps 2017 walk and have now become a counselor at Camp Oasis after going back every year since my first. Now, I am so excited to be a part of the NCCL and work with other amazing individuals to make a positive impact. Today, I can proudly say today that my IBD is part of who I am and has made me who I am. I’ve done everything I can to take care of myself and be healthy today. I know there will be more struggles for me and for people I love in the future because there is no cure yet, but I will continue to fight the cure for IBD and honor all the amazing connections, opportunities and support I will forever have.
Grady Stewart (Louisiana)
- School: Louisiana State University
- Major: Mass communication
- Hometown: New Orleans, LA
My name is Grady Stewart, and I am currently a Mass Communication major and a Digital Media Arts minor at Louisiana State University. Geaux Tigers! In the future, I hope to work in the media and continue to advocate for the IBD community.This is my first year on the council, and I am extremely honored to have been given the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of other patients battling IBD.
As a child, I grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana and was raised on some of the best food in the world. My life has been a series of happy adventures. I went to an immersion school, and became fluent in French. After Hurricane Katrina, I realized that I could preserve the memories that had been washed away by the storm through art. I turned to writing, and then to film to capture, create, and honor the stories that define life. For me, media, filmmaking and writing is a way to communicate in a universal language, experiment with infinite ideas, and exceed the limitations of reality. Around the same time, I started performing circus arts, and ever since I’ve been hooked on performing! I’ve juggled on top of mountains, and unicycled in 8-mile Mardi Gras parades. I’ve even gone hang gliding in the French Alps! I was fortunate to live a healthy, IBD-free, childhood.
In late 2015, I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. I tried out several different medications before recently settling on Remicade. I am hopeful it will do the trick. Living with IBD has taught me to better manage my health, value every moment, and be positive.While my diagnosis has been challenging, it has also motivated me to get involved and advocate in my community. I organized a circus troupe team to participate in Take Steps, and served as the photographer for another local walk. Today, I frequently volunteer at the local animal shelter, and I am constantly looking for new ways to give back to the community. Most importantly, I know that I am stronger than ever.
Josh Goodman (North Carolina)
- School: Wake Forest University
- Major: Economics
- Hometown: Chappaqua
- My name is Josh Goodman. I am currently 20 and a Sophomore at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC and majoring in economics I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease when I was 11. After a year of feeling sick with high fever, severe fatigue, and weight loss I finally got my diagnosis. Having Crohn’s really limited my ability to perform in sports and keep up with the rest of my friends. It wasn’t until a few years after I was diagnosed, when I switched medications, that I started on my path to remission. Even while in remission Crohn’s can have a heavy impact on my life and is never truly gone, but through the support of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation I have been able to not only find others going through similar issues, but also raise awareness and funds for research towards finding a cure for Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis, Being a part of the NCCL has been extremely empowering and has allowed me to meet so many great people who also suffer with IBD. I’m grateful for this opportunity and am lucky to see the impact of all the work the Foundation does for everyone affected by IBD.
Kacy Holloway (Texas)
- School: Baylor University
- Major: Accounting
- Hometown: Heath, TX
My name is Kacy Holloway! I am currently a junior at Baylor University in Waco, Texas studying accounting. I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis when I was a freshman in high school at the age of fifteen. When I started showing symptoms, my parents knew to take me to a GI doctor, because my brother was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease the year before. I spent many of my high school days at doctor’s appointments and in the hospitals. I had to homeschooled for a semester because I had missed too many days of school. I tried every medication on the market that had been approved for ulcerative colitis and the last once seemed to work. I went off to college thinking I had finally found a medication for me, but it eventually stopped working a few months into my 1st semester. I came home the second semester and entered a clinical trial. I was hopeful that this medicine was the answer because my symptoms got better in the first 10 days. Then I started getting worse quickly. I eventually got too sick and couldn’t continue the trial long enough to determine if I was on the medicine or the placebo. I felt like at that point I had exhausted all of my options and decided have the surgery to remove my colon and have a J-Pouch created.
Since having surgery I have been able to live a fuller life and have returned to college and am loving every day! For about a year after I was diagnosed I was in denial of the diagnosis of the autoimmune disease. My dad and I had a conversation one day and something just clicked. I could either let this disease run my life or I could take what I had been given and turn it into something great. My family has been actively involved with the North Texas chapter of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation for the past 5 years. I have loved raising awareness of the disease, raising money for continued research and the relationships I have built through this foundation. I am so excited to be a part of the NCCL and take advocacy to a more national level.
Mary Frances Ierlan (Wisconsin)
- School: Marquette University
- Major: Public Relations
- Hometown: Syracuse, NY
Hi! My name is Mary Frances Ierlan. I am currently a junior at Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI studying Public Relations.
At Marquette I am a campus tour guide as well as work in the Athletics Communications office. I also write for an online blog called The Odyssey and am in the Public Relations Mentor Program.
I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in 2011 at the age of 13. I had been in pain and had felt very fatigued for a few weeks before I told my parents. I was very scared when I was first diagnosed, by all the names of the medications and different diets and because I had never heard of Crohn’s or UC before. A year later I had a total colectomy and lived with an ostomy bag for the first 3 months of high school. After the reversal surgery I felt the best I had in a while. I was not on many medications and I slowly felt better than I had in a long time. The summer after my senior year of high school, I became symptomatic again and was told that I had Crohn’s Disease. I am now on medication to handle the disease.
Going to school 800 miles from home has been a challenge at times, but has made me become a better advocate for myself as a patient. I have learned how to take care of myself and how to eat right with a meal plan!
I have been involved with my local chapter of the CCFA through the Take Steps walks. As I have grown older, I have come to accept my disease and become more comfortable speaking about it with others.
The NCCL is a great way to meet others dealing with these diseases. It allows me to be an advocate and to speak about a cause that I am very passionate about.
Parsa Iranmahboub (California)
- School: University of California, Los Angeles
- Major: Bioengineering
- Hometown: Burlingame, CA
Hi! My name is Parsa, and I am a sophomore at UCLA studying Bioengineering in hopes of pursuing a career in medicine or biomedical devices. I was diagnosed with Crohn’s when I was eight. And to be quite honest, I don’t remember much from the time of my diagnosis besides the frequent trips to the bathroom, my lack of energy, and the two-hour car rides my family took to receive second opinions from a recommended pediatric GI. Instead, what I vividly remember is the emotional and mental stress that quickly followed with my “invisible” disease. I remember playing wall ball by myself in third grade because I simply did not have the energy to run around and play tag with the other kids. I remember growing self-conscious about my body image when I began to gain weight due to my medications. I remember throwing up every Friday for a whole month because the thought of my weekly injections made me nauseous. And in later years, I remember dealing with the frustrations of taking extra precautions with my diet, my sun exposure, my medications, and the multiple fistulas I developed. Fast forward eleven years, and it’s still hard for me to believe that I’ve had Crohn’s for over a decade. But despite my long history with the disease, I only recently became active in the IBD community. Growing up, I did not know anyone with IBD. Actually, the first time I heard about resources like Camp Oasis was during the later years of high school, and even then I decided to shrug off all these amazing opportunities to meet other students who shared my disease. It wasn’t until college that I finally had the opportunity to meet and genuinely become friends with another IBD patient. By talking to her, I realized that IBD is not just inflammation in your digestive tract. That there is a whole mental and emotional component that many patients share. And that’s what convinced me to share my story! Now, I am proud to have participated in my first Spin4 event and to be involved in IBD research as a Research Assistant under the supervision of Dr. Jill Hoffman, Dr. Harry Pothoulakis, and the UCLA Division of Digestive Health. And as a member of the NCCL, I am now excited to work with other amazing individuals across the nation to advocate, educate, and raise awareness for an “invisible” disease that affects so many students!
Rachel Gerstenfeld (Maryland)
- School: University of Maryland
- Major: Behavioral and community health
- Hometown: Scotch Plains, NJ
- My name is Rachel and I am honored to be a member of the NCCL. I am a junior at the University of Maryland, College Park studying behavioral and community health. On campus, I am an ambassador for my university’s Honors College and am involved in my sorority, Sigma Delta Tau. I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at age 7 in April 2005 after experiencing many severe symptoms of IBD. I spent the next few years constantly in and out of the hospital, missing the majority of 2nd and 3rd grade as well as many months of middle school. During this time, I tried a myriad of treatments such as steroids, Remicade, Humira, 6MP, Methotrexate, and more, none of which were able to put me into remission. I lost as substantial amount of weight, failed to continue growing, and had difficulty eating, so I received tube feedings through a nasogastric tube for a year and a half and then through a G-tube for more than 3 years. The summer before 7th grade I had my colon removed and finally found some relief after years of struggling with Crohn’s. Since then, I have had 3 other surgeries and am currently on Stelara. While every day brings new challenges and triumphs, I am determined to reach my goals, maintain a positive attitude, and enjoy life as a college student with Crohn’s disease. In 2015, I finally attended the Foundation’s Camp Oasis as an LIT. It was a truly amazing experience that introduced me to many outstanding individuals with IBD. Because of Camp Oasis, I finally learned that I was not alone in my fight against IBD. Attending camp motivated me to start advocating for myself and educating others on Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. As a member of the NCCL, I am now always very excited to reach others with IBD, raise awareness, and work with the passionate members and affiliates of the Foundation.
Sarah Kate DelaCourt (North Carolina)
- School: University of North Carolina at Wilmington
- Major: Nursing
- Hometown: Wilmington
My name is Sarah Kate DelaCourt and I am one of the Co-Chairs of the NCCL presently. I am a Junior at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington majoring in nursing, and am so excited to be a member of the NCCL! I am looking forward to hopefully becoming a Wound and Ostomy certified nurse, and to working in the ICU. I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis when I was fifteen, about halfway through my sophomore year of high school. I had been sick for several months, and the symptoms were getting more severe. I was admitted into the hospital in the beginning of December and had a colonoscopy done which revealed severe Ulcerative Colitis. I was relieved that we finally had a diagnosis, but I was fearful for what the future would hold. I was immediately put on oral medications, but sadly had an allergic reaction to the first colitis drug we tried. I was then put on Methotrexate and high doses of steroids which was enough to put me into remission. After spending Christmas and New Years in the hospital, I finally was able to return home and adjust to the new normal. I was in remission for about a year before I relapsed and, after discussing the options with my doctor, I was put on Remicade. Fortunately, it has kept me in remission for a year and a half now, and I am so thankful for my infusion clinic! Even through my diagnosis in high school and relapsing once, I was still able to play two varsity sports and graduate at the top of my class. I am also thankful to have been blessed with such a supportive family and amazing nurses and doctors who have been with me every step of the way. I cannot wait to be an advocate on my campus, and start spreading awareness about IBD. Having IBD has no doubt been one of the hardest things in my life, but it has also taught me so much and given me the overwhelming desire to want to help others also struggling with it. Through my diagnosis, I have decided to become a gastroenterology nurse to hopefully shine a light in the lives of IBD patients who might feel like all hope is lost. Beyond anything else, I want people to know that they are not alone, and that there are resources to help them fight this battle! Coming into college I knew that I wanted to make an impact on the IBD world around me, so I started a Take Steps team in my own city. When I was diagnosed as a high schooler I did not know anyone else with either Crohn’s or Colitis, so sometimes I felt like I was all alone in my journey. Now, as a member of the NCCL, I want to be able to reach every student I possibly can with the reassurance that they are not alone in their disease. IBD is a lifelong struggle, but it most definitely does not have to define your life!
Scott Gringauz (Colorado)
- School: University of Colorado Boulder
- Major: Business
- Hometown: Parkland, Florida