USF student with diabetes undeterred by medical condition


diabetes Elizabeth Sullivan
Students With Diabetes member Elizabeth Sullivan


TAMPA, Fl– Confusion. Dizziness. Shakes. Hunger. Headaches and irritability. All of these are symptoms of low blood sugar. They can affect a college student’s concentration and lead to poor grades, as well as being a serious health risk.

Students managing their diabetes find it can be a journey of ups and downs, with high blood sugar being just as dangerous as low blood sugar. Every day can be a challenge depending on how they handle their meals, take their insulin and exercise. Always having to worry about if they’ve done everything right affects their lives on a larger scale.

Diabetes plays a role in the workplace as well. Bosses and co-workers might wonder if you’re healthy enough to do your job, what you’re doing with the syringes and why you have to have snacks during the day.

Elizabeth Sullivan is a graduate student at USF with Type I diabetes and she has dealt with the ups and downs of diabetes every day, but she has not let it define her life.

Sullivan joined the USF chapter of Students With Diabetes about two years ago because she wanted to get involved with the group. After graduating from Stetson, she came back to the Tampa Bay area and the founder of the organization, Nicole Johnson, asked her to run the Tampa Bay Students With Diabetes chapter. She acts as a coordinator for the chapter, planning events and reaching out to students with diabetes.

Sullivan knows what it’s like to live with diabetes and manage a school and work schedule. “Every day is a new challenge,” she said. “You never know what your blood sugar is gonna be like, you never know if it’s going to affect your ability to perform well in class or in tests. If you have low or high blood sugar right before a test, you memory goes right out the window.”

Even though diabetes research is ongoing, there is no prospect for a cure any time soon. New medications, therapies and strategies for dealing with diabetes show up regularly in the news every day however, leading to hope that a cure will be found soon.

Sullivan gets excited when she hears about new developments in diabetes research.

“One of the ones I’m most looking forward to is the artificial pancreas,” Sullivan said. “We brought in Dr. Ed Damiano, who is the one developing the bionic pancreas and he’s already gone through at least ten years of research for this and they’ve done clinical trials and gotten really amazing results.”

Diabetes affects millions of people in the U.S., and it seems the numbers are increasing. A report by the Centers For Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia states more than 29 million people in the U.S. have diabetes, which is more than the previous estimate of 26 million in 2010. As bad as that sounds, the report also says that one in four people may not realize they have it.

The National Diabetes Statistics Report 2014 also has statistics on people aged 20 years or older, prime college student age, with 1.7 million new diabetes cases as of 2012. Attending college, working and maintaining a social life is tough enough as it is, but students with diabetes face even more challenges in managing these activities.

According to Francesca Sgambato, administrative specialist at the USF Student Health Clinic, there is not currently a special program for diabetic students but the clinic is willing and able to help students who have or think they might have diabetes.

“We can offer to do any type of labwork or testing they might need,” Sgambato said. “The providers can provide them with medication, if they feel that they might benefit from seeing a nutritionist, we do have one in-house that we would be able to refer them to.”

Sgambato recommends that students who have diabetes or think they have symptoms should go to the USF Student Health Clinic and get their blood sugar levels checked. The staff can then suggest treatment.

Sullivan says the easiest thing to do for people unfamiliar with diabetes is simply talk to a student with diabetes about what it’s like.

“The one thing I would like people to know is I want them to ask,” Sullivan said. “I want them to ask me questions, ask why I do certain things, ask why I can’t do certain things. I think a lot of my friends who I’ve been talking to also agree that just by people asking it gives us a chance to talk with them and connect with other people in a way we might not been able to before.”

Survive and Thrive


Chris Roederer, Senior Vice President of Human Resources for Tampa General Hospital

Chris Roederer grew up in Fern Creek, Ky., just outside of Louisville. He comes from a family of seven, including four siblings, his parents and himself. All his family is from the Fern Creek area. He graduated Fern Creek High School, and then attended Western Kentucky University. He graduated there with a bachelor’s in public relations and an emphasis on broadcast with a minor in communications. His wanted to be a broadcaster, so he studied journalism and broadcasting and worked at several radio stations while in college. In addition to his intellectual education, he was also working as a housekeeper by the age of 14 at his mother’s nursing home, where he was in charge of doing floors. He then worked as an orderly there and later at a hospital while attending college.

After graduating college, Roederer tried finding a job in public relations or broadcasting. This was in 1979, when unemployment rates were very high. To make ends meet, he worked with his father at the home store, American Standard, which was hard work. His job was to make sinks, which required the use of an 1800-degree furnace, working all night from 9:30 p.m. to 5:30 in the morning. Not only that, but he also continued to work at his mother’s nursing home as an orderly. After a while, however, he decided that he did not want that to be his job for the rest of his life, so he returned to graduate school in 1980 to study organizational communications with an emphasis on human resources.

Roederer went back to Western Kentucky. After studying for one year, he was only four classes short of his degree, but he already had four job offers from several companies, including Vesta Laboratories, Xerox, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Humana. In 1981, and Chris decided he wanted to go into healthcare, so he took the position with Humana, which was a training program to become a human resources administrator. His first job was in Orlando, which was intended to be a one-year training program. After six months, Humana offered him the position of director of human resources at 22 years old. Roederer was offered his first head of human resources (HR) job at a small hospital in Morristown, Tenn., which was his second hospital with Humana. The third hospital he worked at was in St. Petersburg, Fla., only ten months later. After three years, he transferred to a hospital in Louisville, where he worked part time as the director of HR and as an employee relations specialist for the corporate office.

The following year, Humana transferred him to a women’s hospital in Tampa, Fla.. Humana wanted him to look into the employee relations situation and union activity there. After straightening that situation out, Roederer spent three years there as a director, but soon he would have a career decision to make. St. Joseph’s Hospital was planning to buy Tampa Women’s Hospital, so he had to choose to either be unemployed or become the head of human resources at Sunrise Hospital in Las Vegas, which was much larger hospital and the largest for-profit hospital in the country at that time. He worked there for three years until Humana asked him to go to Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago, but he did not go there because of the cold weather.

While looking for other opportunities, Roederer received a phone call from a recruiter who asked him to look at a hospital in California. He took the position of vice president of Human Resources at the Eisenhower Memorial Hospital, The Betty Ford Center, the Sinatra Children’s Center and the Annenberg Center. He was the vice president for four years there.

After that assignment, he took a position doing executive compensation work for nonprofit health systems and working with boards. This would allow him time to spend with his daughter, who was growing up in Kentucky. He only had this position for a year and a half, due in part to the travel requirements. His job involved constant traveling, with over 500 flights in a year and a half and almost six days a week in transit. His area was supposed to be the southeastern United States, but he ended up travelling to places such as Oregon, San Francisco, Texas, Los Angeles, New Jersey and North Carolina.

In 1996, one of Roederer’s clients in Tampa’s Moffitt Cancer Center offered him the position of their first vice president of HR, where he stayed four years. He then received two job offers, one in Miami and the other at the City of Hope Clinical Cancer General in Duarte, Calif.. He was happy with his position at Moffitt but he was intrigued to work at one of the finest cancer centers in the world, so he took the position. He started out as senior vice president of HR. After over six years, his job evolved to include more responsibilities. He became chief corporate services officer, and his duties included HR, six unions, environmental services, dietary services, information technology, facilities, construction, safety, security, grounds, volunteer services and education. This covered nearly all of the support services, except finances, for the 102-building campus.

He wanted to return to Tampa when he noticed his parents were aging, so he asked around at the HR department at Tampa General Hospital (TGH) about opportunities. He already knew Ron Hytoff, the former chief executive officer of TGH, so he accepted the position of senior vice president of HR at TGH. Since then, he has stayed there for the past seven years.

In addition to his professional life, his personal life has been good, as well. He is married to Anita, a homemaker, with two sons, a daughter and their dog named Lily. He is active is his local church and because he wants to give back to the community, he is on the boards of several different organizations, including the Boy’s And Girl’s Club of Tampa, the AfterOurs Urgent Care Centers and is on the selection committee of the Outback Bowl. He is also active in fundraising for several organizations, including TGH.

One of his passions, which he works into his fundraising efforts, is his large collection of rare bourbon. He has a collection of over 120 bottles of the rarest bourbon around. He hosts bourbon tastings at his home, called Taste of Kentucky, and people from all over the world come to marvel at his collection.

Chris Roederer has a busy life and career but he loves reaching out to people. His motto is “survive and thrive.” He has made the Tampa Bay area his home for years now and he loves the area and all it has to offer. He even likes the area enough to want to end his career there.