Iowa State College Students Help to Raise Awareness of Alzheimer’s Disease

Colleges and Universities around the country are working to raise awareness in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.  One such college is Iowa State University (ISU),  Students at ISU formed 2 clubs to help students learn about the disease.

According to Heather Kruger, an academic adviser in the School of Education. “Having clubs on campus is a great way for our students to educate others about the disease. It is unbelievable how many students are affected by the disease. Our hope is to continue to educate and raise funds to help researchers find a cure.”

Founder of AFA On Campus

Founder and president of Iowa State’s AFA On Campus chapter, Hannah Chute, decided to form the club because of her grandfather getting diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease.  “I watched how the disease affected him and my entire family — it was devastating,” said Hannah, a junior in ISU’s elementary education program.  “He passed away a few years ago and I knew that I had to do everything in my power to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s research,” Hannah added.

Another student at ISU, Joe Webb, co-president of a club, called Advocates for the Alzheimer’s Association at Iowa State, and graduate research assistant in food science and nutrition, also experienced Alzheimer’s disease (AD) firsthand—in his family or origin.  In a recent Iowa State Education News article, Joe told reporters that he knew many other students on campus who had also been impacted personally by the disease.

“On our club recruitment form, I asked people why they wanted to be involved in our organization. The majority of them said they had a grandparent with Alzheimer’s, or they’ve had a close connection with the disease,” Joe said. “I really feel that Alzheimer’s disease not only impacts the person with the disease, but also the person’s family and community.”

The two students, Hannah and Joe, have become very strong advocates for raising awareness of AD—both on, and off ISU campus.

Taking AD Awareness to the State Level

Joe attended the Iowa General Assembly for Iowa Day at the Hill, where he spoke with state legislators.  He also visited the U.S. Capital to meet with members of Congress during an event aimed to educate people about the need for funding for AD research and support services.  “I’m very excited to learn more about what it’s like to advocate and campaign on Capitol Hill,” Joe said. “I’ll learn what I can do as a scientist to continue to make sure that we are speaking up for the people whose voices aren’t being heard.”

Hanna hosted a “Raise Your Voice for Care” event on the ISU campus.  The event included free activities and seminars aimed at raising awareness for AD and dementia.

Research and Alzheimer’s Awareness

The two advocates also became involved in AD research, working with a science and nutrition professor, named Auriel Willette.  Professor Willette shares his research during guest visits to the AFA On Campus meetings.  He is also an advisor for the Advocates for the Alzheimer’s Association Club. “Actions we take right now on a day-to-day basis, whether or not we see the long-term outcome, have a long-term effect on our brain,” Joe explained. “In our lab, we seek to understand how metabolism or diseases like diabetes or obesity lead to detrimental changes in the brain.”

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