FSU student earns international recognition for her work fighting Type 1 diabetes

Emmabella Rudd has been working to find a cure and support research efforts for Type 1 diabetes since her diagnosis at age 5.
Emmabella Rudd has been working to find a cure and support research efforts for Type 1 diabetes since her diagnosis at age 5.

A Florida State University student is one of 400 individuals from around the world to receive a Diana Award, established in memory of the late Princess of Wales to recognize the social action or humanitarian work of young people.

Emmabella Rudd, a public health major from Sarasota, earned the award for her work on behalf of causes related to Type 1 diabetes, which she was diagnosed with at age 5.   

Rudd said she is excited and humbled by the acknowledgment.  

“I’ve been at work for the past 14 years of my life to find a cure,” she said. “It is my passion. I am always working on something related to it, whether it be fundraising, shaping legislation or educating those communities that don’t have education on it.”

Since her diagnosis, Rudd has volunteered countless hours for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. She has organized fundraisers, support groups and has addressed Congress on behalf of diabetes research. To date, her efforts have helped raise awareness and more than $350,000 for diabetes research.

“It can be hard to make change,” she said. “When something like this comes about, you feel seen. The award is a push to keep working, to keep moving forward.”  

Rudd is entering her third year at FSU and is on track to graduate early. She plans on pursuing a master’s degree and a law degree, followed by a career in advocacy for the underrepresented.

The Diana Award, which is bestowed by the charity of the same name, was established in memory of Diana Spencer, Princess of Wales, and is supported by Diana’s sons, the Duke of Cambridge, Prince William, and the Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry.  

Because of travel restrictions related to the pandemic, Rudd said she’ll miss out on the opportunity to meet with the princes and other awards recipients at an in-person ceremony, but she said that’s a small disappointment when she considers the cause that drives her.  

Her work has continued on campus and throughout Tallahassee, as Rudd serves as director of the Office of Governmental Affairs in the Student Government association, where she advocates and represents student interests in the state legislature.

The search for a cure for Type 1 diabetes has been at the fore of Rudd’s work, along with educating people and reminding them that the disease does not discriminate and is one that anyone at any age can develop.

Tops on her list of concerns right now is the price of insulin.

“My perspective has developed, and my understanding has changed from fundraising, to education, to advocacy and seeing how much we can get done working with local state and federal representatives,” she said. “Insulin costs far, far less to make than what is charged for it. It’s price gouging. So we work with lawmakers to make it affordable.”

Rudd added: “We focus on finding a cure, yes, but we also focus on why we can’t afford the medicine and the supplies. We can’t save lives without focusing on the present.”

Rudd is intent on using multiple platforms to raise awareness of Type 1 diabetes. With that in mind she’ll be competing in the Miss Florida USA pageant July 17. 

“It’s my first time competing in a pageant,” she said. “I am Miss South Tallahassee, and I am carrying this issue and advocacy with me. I aspire to inspire others to become agents of change in their communities.