PBL valedictorian maintains her grades, active lifestyle despite Type 1 diabetes

PAXTON — When Aubrey Glazik gets ready to take the floor for a cheerleading competition, the nerves often set in, as they do for many of her teammates.

The difference is that Glazik has Type 1 diabetes. While others might feel a little jittery, the situation can get much more serious for Glazik when her adrenaline starts pumping.

“I feel like with other cheerleaders who get nervous before competitions, it doesn’t really do anything to them, but with me, it’s a big change,” Glazik said.

But that’s just life, and Glazik is OK with hers. Glazik has been dealing with her medical condition since being diagnosed in fifth grade, and she’s doing quite fine with it, by all accounts.

Despite having to constantly monitor her blood sugar levels and despite having to wear an insulin pump at all times, the 18-year-old rural Paxton resident is impressively active. In addition to being a member of Paxton-Buckley-Loda High School’s cheerleading squad, Glazik participates in show choir, student council and the National Honor Society, while also mentoring for the Big Brothers Big Sisters program and working as a part-time pharmacy technician at Hudson Drug & Hallmark Shop in downtown Paxton.

Oh, and she’s also a straight-A student — one of six valedictorians who will walk the stage and receive a diploma this Friday at PBL High School.

Ironically, the prospective future pharmacist credits her academic and extracurricular success, partly, on her diabetic condition.

“I became diabetic in fifth grade, so I felt like I kind of had to grow up, I guess, in a way, faster than my peers around me,” Glazik said. “I had a lot more responsibility and a lot more to think about on the average day. Like before I went to P.E. (class), I couldn’t just run out to P.E.; I had to check my blood sugar and eat something if I needed it and things like that. In fifth grade, that’s not easy. ... It definitely helped me with prioritizing things.”

For all she has going on in her active teenage life, Glazik admits, “diabetes has to come first.”

“It has to go, ‘Diabetes, school and then activities,’” Glazik said. “Because if I’m sick, then I’m not going to be in school. And if I’m not doing good in school, I can’t do my activities.

“And that’s sometimes rough, trying to find an order for everything ... but diabetes at a young age helped me learn how to do that. I mean, in fifth grade, it was like, ‘OK, do you want a piece of cake right now and feel bad later? Or do you want to eat something healthy and feel good for the rest of the day?’ Stuff like that, you know what I mean?”

Smart student
Glazik has a perfect 4.0 grade-point average and has never had a B in high school.

“I got one B in junior high, in seventh-grade English,” Glazik said. “But other than that, I don’t know that I’ve gotten any B’s.”

Glazik — who is joined by Dalton Cowan, Emily Garney, Megan Schoonveld, Abby Sellek and Jonah Wilson as PBL’s valedictorians — will major this fall in prepharmacy at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., just a short trip from Paxton down Illinois 9. She won a $10,000 Presidential Scholarship and was accepted into Purdue’s honors program, according to Andy Hudson, the head pharmacist at Hudson Drug where Glazik has worked as a pharmacy tech since February.

Hudson also graduated with a pharmacy degree from Purdue — the seventh-ranked school for pharmacy studies in the nation. Glazik, however, denies that Hudson put her up to following in his footsteps. And she said she has no immediate plans to take over Hudson’s business after getting her degree.

“I’ll work there maybe,” she said. “I’m not sure.”

Glazik does admit that her experience working at Hudson Drug this year helped solidify her decision to pursue a career as a pharmacist.

She had originally wanted to be an endocrinologist, a “diabetes doctor,” as she describes it. But the intensive schooling involved with that career choice — which is even more rigorous than the six-year program Glazik will be embarking on this fall — caused her to change her mind.

“With endocrinology, I didn’t know if I was up for all that schooling,” Glazik said.

Glazik later considered becoming an “actual doctor,” but she passed on that career also because she “didn’t want to deal with the blood-and-guts side of being a doctor.”

“But I still wanted to help people and be in the medical field,” she said, “because the medical field has helped me so much. ... So I looked into pharmacy, and I job-shadowed at a couple of pharmacies (Doug’s Compounding Pharmacy and Hudson Drug & Hallmark Shop, both in Paxton).

“By the time I started working there, I already knew it was for me.”

Not your average day
Glazik, the daughter of Tammy and Gary Glazik of rural Paxton, is constantly monitoring her blood sugar levels. When her levels get too high — as can happen due to nervousness in cheerleading competitions — she has to give herself insulin through an insulin pump she wears on her hip.

The insulin pump gives Glazik a continuous flow of insulin. The levels of insulin being pumped can be adjusted based on her blood sugar level.

“It’s connected to me at all times,” Glazik said. “It gives me insulin so I don’t have to get shots. But I do have to change my ‘site,’ which is kind of like a low-key IV, every three to four days.”

When asked what would happen if she forgot to wear the insulin pump, Glazik said candidly: “I wouldn’t forget to wear it.”

Hypothetically, if that happened, she would not feel very well. And she would probably end up hospitalized.

“If I just didn’t manage my blood sugars and stopped giving any insulin, I would definitely end up in the hospital,” she said.

Glazik never forgets to wear her pump, of course.

“It’s like a part of my lifestyle, I guess,” Glazik said. “I’ve taken it off at cheer practice before and left it off for a couple of hours, and my blood sugar’s been high, but the second I feel my blood sugar is high, I’m like, ‘What am I doing wrong?’ So I’ll be like, ‘the pump’s not on,’ or ‘you didn’t bolus,’ which is like giving insulin.”

Glazik checks her blood sugar levels at least four times a day.

“That’s a minimum,” she said. “I can’t remember the last day I only checked four times. I have to check before breakfast, lunch and dinner. I have to check before I go to bed. And then I generally check at random times throughout the day. If I feel a little funny, I’ll check, or maybe before I do any activities. Normally, like before I did cheerleading or show choir, I’d check quite a few times throughout the day. That’s something you have to keep on top of.”

Keeping on top of things is no problem for Glazik, of course.

Ready to graduate
Glazik said she is “really proud” of PBL’s class of 2015, even if it has only six valedictorians, down from a school record of 10 in last year’s class.

“I feel like we’re a pretty smart class,” she said. “The class ahead of us was extremely smart. ... But we’re all really diverse, and I feel like we’re a very smart class, too. We’ve put in some hard work.”

Glazik included.

“Being valedictorian, school work and school is important to me,” Glazik said. “You just have to have that mindset to, I guess, achieve it.”

Despite being one of PBL’s valedictorians, Glazik is not giving a valedictory address Friday.

“I’m not very good at speeches at all,” she admitted.

Instead, the four students speaking will be class president Eve Bahler, along with Kade Hill, Jordan Anderson and valedictorian Dalton Cowan.

Glazik said she will miss her classmates, but the future is bright.

“A lot of people are ready to get out (of high school), but I’m sad to be leaving all the people I’ve grown up with my whole life,” Glazik said. “But I’m also really proud of us, and I know there’s a lot of us going to a bunch of great places, and we’re going to do great things. So I’m looking forward to our class reunions, where we’ll see everyone, and I feel like we’ll all do really good in our futures and achieve great things.”

Categories (3):News, Education, People
Location (3):Local, Paxton, Ford County

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