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Meet Trailblazer Tiana Cooks

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tiana Cooks.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I was diagnosed with Type One Diabetes on March 9th, 2014. In every day since my perspective and perception of the world have been vastly different than I understood at the time. As I lay in the hospital bed with thousands of questions, there was one thing I knew for sure, I would never question why. I firmly believe that everything in life happens for a reason.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Like many chronic diseases, this requires 24/7 attention. There are days when I break down, I feel angry, frustrated, and misunderstood. I am challenged daily by this disease somedays more than others. Over this journey, I found the answers to the questions that once occupied my thoughts, but more importantly, I learned the lesson of a lifetime. Our struggles are only struggles if we allow them to be. If you re-evaluate your perspective, you will realize your struggles are actually your greatest blessings.

Living with a disease that never stops is not easy, at times it seems daunting and unremitting. When diversity arises, we all have options, we can let it eat us or fuel us. Using this as fuel, I have grown a burning passion to help others overcome their diversity as well. It is important to never discredit someone’s struggle because they come in different magnitudes. Everyone has a story that molded them into who they are and ultimately influences their day-to-day lives. Regardless of the challenge, I hope to encourage people to never fall victim to their circumstances. There is no disease, person, or event that can control your destiny in life. When people are able to find the lesson in the struggle, they will realize their destiny and potential in life is limitless.

Please tell us more about your work, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
I am currently finishing up my degree at UCCS in Colorado Springs. My current focus is working in our community with children and young adults who have Type 1 diabetes. My hope is that I can motivate people to take positives from a negative situation, and assure that one day they are able to help others too. I have realized that sometimes all it takes is to see that someone understands you to turn a situation around.

I have volunteered with various organizations including the Boys and Girls Club of America and Children’s Hospital. I am also the event coordinator for Diabetes camps for the American Diabetes Association in Colorado Springs. I have coordinated five camps and participated in events for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. I recently went to Washington, D.C. to advocate on behalf of millions of Americans living with Type 1 Diabetes for JDRF. Because of these opportunities to expose myself to different ages, cultures, ethnicities, religions, and backgrounds, I truly understand that everyone has a story. There is no price tag on putting a smile on someone’s face. My purpose for everything I do is to leave people with a different outlook on their situation, whether it be lack of money, living with diabetes, or any unforeseen circumstance.

As far as the future goes, I do want to write a book and one day and I would love to have a non-profit organization of my own.

So much of the media coverage is focused on the challenges facing women today, but what about the opportunities? Do you feel there are any opportunities that women are particularly well positioned for?
I always want to encourage people to be open about their stories because you never know who is listening. Tell your story freely, genuinely, and often. Being a woman in society who is making a difference in their community is important and we need more women leaders. Whatever you are struggling with, is only a struggle if you allow it to so change your mindset, reach out, and make a difference. There are always opportunities to get involved in the community. Even if you only change one life, I challenge you to use your struggle and be a blessing to someone else. Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions, comments, or information about volunteer opportunities.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Connor McNeil (Personal Photo), Bart Deferme (Event photo with Mic in hand), Corrine Watne (Red shirt)

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