Student honored

04/09/13

Bluffton junior wins statewide award

The Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges has recognized Bluffton University junior Jena Diller for her volunteer work for diabetes awareness and other causes with its 2013 Service-Learning Leadership Award.

Diller, a marketing and communication major at Bluffton, will receive the award during the foundation’s “Evening of Excellence” April 10 in Columbus.

The sister of two siblings with Type 1 diabetes, Diller began promoting awareness of the disease by volunteering at health fairs with her mother, a certified diabetes educator. She has continued to do so through high school and college, testing fairgoers’ blood sugar levels and providing information to help build public knowledge about diabetes and prevention efforts.

Last November, she planned and coordinated a walk for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Within two weeks, participants in 10 states walked more than 5.5 million steps, or about 2,290 miles. Walking more than 600 of those miles were campus community members at Bluffton, where Diller organized a 10-hour walk Nov. 7 in the university’s newly opened Sommer Center for Health and Fitness Education.

More than one-third of Bluffton students, faculty and staff participated in the walk. Among them was President James Harder, who, in a letter recommending Diller for the statewide award, wrote that “I can attest to Jena’s positive impact on our campus community, including raising our awareness of juvenile diabetes and contributing to our personal fitness.”

In addition to her work for diabetes research, Diller developed “The Color of Christmas,” a December 2011 project aimed at providing art and coloring items to children’s hospitals and pediatric clinics at Christmas. With the help of Columbus Grove (Ohio) High School—her alma mater—and its student council members, she was able to distribute more than 700 items to hospitalized children.  

She has also volunteered for the American Diabetes Association, as well as for Big Brothers Big Sisters, the American Cancer Society Relay for Life and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. And she continued to advocate for her favorite cause, diabetes awareness, while serving as Miss Ohio Teen 2011 and National American Miss Teen 2011-12.

“During that year, she maintained a full academic schedule as she fulfilled her leadership responsibilities on behalf of a national program and used her platform to build awareness and support for juvenile diabetes research across the country,” Harder wrote.

This summer, he added, Diller plans to complete a marketing internship with a health care organization “so that she can explore possibilities for connecting her academic studies with her passion for improving health and serving those in need.”

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