Student Star: Emmabella Rudd

FSU senior dedicated to public service continues activism on campus and beyond

Name: Emmabella Rudd
Major: Public Health
Graduation: Spring 2022
Hometown: Sarasota, FL

“Through my public health studies at Florida State University, I have taken classes that have helped narrow my future career plans and the impact I hope to make.”

Fast Facts

  1. Student Government Positions: Office of Governmental Affairs Director for FSU SGA and SGA Undergraduate Senator
  2. Favorite campus study spot: Starbucks in Dirac Library
  3. TV appearances: CNBC and USA Today
  4. Accomplishment: 2022 TEDxFSU featured speaker
  5. FSU memory: joining Delta Zeta Sorority in spring 2020

Florida State University senior Emmabella Rudd developed a passion for advocating for individuals with health inequities and their health care rights after being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 5. Intent on continuing her activism, Rudd chose to attend FSU because of its dedication to public service and championing student leadership.

As a public health major in the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy, member of the FSU Service Scholar Program and past director of SGA’s Office of Governmental Affairs, Rudd has used FSU and its resources to remain steadfast in her humanitarian efforts. In recognition of her work, Rudd received the Diana Award, established in memory of the late Princess of Wales to recognize the social action or humanitarian work of young people.

Although Rudd has already made contributions to diabetes research and health care reform, she plans to attend Georgetown University to pursue a master’s degree in health and public interest this fall, with the goal of eventually attending law school.

To help spread information on diabetes and other chronic diseases, Rudd presented her personal story and ideas surrounding health care reform at the annual TEDxFSU conference April 6 at the FSU Alumni Center Ballroom.

“I hope the audience learns why we need prescription drug price reform and overall health care change in the United States,” Rudd said. “Lastly, I want them to leave my talk knowing that they can have an impact on government and policy through advocacy and activism.”

What resources at FSU have helped you achieve your service goals?

FSU Service Scholars has provided me with a platform to learn about the intersectionality of all fields of service. Given that all scholars come from different service areas, my fellow scholars and I have been able to engage in dialogue with one another, which has increased our understanding of the community and how we can fuel the fire of communities and social issues to create a lasting impact. This foundation has ultimately changed the way I approach service and what I take away from it. Additionally, the Office of National Fellowships has aided in the development of my reflective skills when it comes to examining my service and working to dispel the imposter syndrome I often struggle with. The FSU faculty and staff I interact with have also been incredible in their support of my service and leadership endeavors, especially through the more difficult times of my college career. 

I also utilize the women in my sorority, Delta Zeta, as a source of inspiration. My sisters are unconditionally loving and supportive through all I do, and they are also my safe haven when things become difficult within my service. They encourage me to not only keep going but to prioritize my own self-care and mental health and to enjoy the things I love outside of the work I do. 

How have your personal experiences impacted your passion for service involvement?

At the end of last year, I was awakened at 6 a.m. by a phone call from an unknown number. On the other end of the telephone was a mother, whose name I still do not know, informing me that her son had run out of insulin. As a result, he was going into diabetic ketoacidosis, a fatal condition that develops within hours of having no insulin. Fortunately, I was able to visit him at his apartment and give him one of my own vials.  

In the United States, the hunt for any extra insulin is common, whether it’s through social media outlets like Twitter or direct messaging on Facebook and Instagram, the diabetes community rallies to be one another’s emergency insulin relief fund. Within the past year, I have supplied 12 people with insulin. As someone with Type 1 diabetes, I’ve learned that equity within health care in the United States is not considered a priority. Seeing the health disparities that exist for those with pre-existing conditions, such as myself, has greatly inspired my passion for advocacy and activism. 

What did receiving the Diana Award mean to you?

I am still so humbled and grateful to be recognized on a global scale for the cause I’m devoted to and so passionate about. Many institutions experience activism fatigue as a result of a system that places pharmaceutical greed over human life, so this recognition serves as a reminder to keep fighting no matter what difficulties may arise. It makes me, and the diabetes community as a whole, feel seen in our collective efforts to raise awareness about diabetes, reduce health inequities, lower insulin pricing and work to find a cure. Our advocacy, activism and constant efforts have been recognized, and this award encourages me to keep pushing for change. 

How has your major helped solidify your passions?

Through my public health studies at Florida State University, I have taken classes that have helped narrow my future career plans and the impact I hope to make. Public health is rooted in social justice, not only because health is intertwined with all social issues, but also because I believe health care and its access should be a human right. After many classes and my advocacy efforts on the state and federal levels, I have realized that public health attorneys and U.S. health policy change are in critical need. As I begin my next chapter in pursuing my master’s degree in Health and Public Interest at Georgetown University, I am very thankful for my experience at Florida State University in guiding me to my passion for leadership and social change in health policy. Following my master’s degree, I plan to pursue a law degree with the goal of becoming a public health attorney. 

How has your time at FSU allowed you to grow as a leader for the causes you represent?

Being just steps away from the Florida capitol, I have been able to engage in the legislative process through advocacy, policy writing, organizing fundraisers, attending committee hearings and lobbying. As the State Lead for Florida’s #insulin4all Chapter, I push policies to change the reality of insulin rationing for those who live with diabetes in Florida. I plan meetings with state legislators, collaborate with other non-profit organizations on how to best approach insulin policy and conduct advocacy workshops to educate how the legislative process works and how to connect with your representatives.