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Nicole Johnson - Miss America 1999


Nicole Johnson won the Miss America title in 1999.  She became the first Miss America with type 1 diabetes (T1D) and the first contestant to publicize the use of an insulin pump.  Today Nicole is a nationally recognized advocate for diabetes research and education, and one of the biggest supporters of the UMass Diabetes Center of Excellence (DCOE).  A champion of healthy living, she’s published seven books related to diabetes, including several cookbooks.  The most recent is titled What to Do When Your Partner Has Diabetes: A Survival Guide.   

“Each day, I’m grateful for the many medical advances in diabetes care which I benefit from,” says Johnson.  “It’s all too easy to slip into depression, discontent, or to have a defeated attitude. I fight it daily. Yet I believe in optimism, happiness, and the power of relationships. Science supports the notion that a positive attitude leads to a better quality of life, and that results in better outcomes.”

Nicole is a member of the UMass DCOE Visiting Advisory Committee.  She appreciates the quality care that she receives from Dr. David Harlan and the world-class type 1 diabetes research being done on the UMass Medical School campus. 

"I am so blessed to have Dr. Harlan oversee my diabetes care.  His philosophy of care is collaborative, empowering, caring and solution oriented," says Johnson.  "I love the way he incorporates the latest technology and management solutions to his practice.  I feel a part of the team at UMass and feel heard as a person with T1D.  I trust Dr. Harlan's guidance and am grateful for his support of my goals and dreams." 

Nicole is the National Director of Mission at JDRF where she uses her behavioral science, public health and communications background to drive strategies for population engagement and understanding.  She has been a diabetes advocate since her T1D diagnosis during her college years in 1993.  Though best known for winning the Miss America crown, she has spread awareness about diabetes by sharing her personal story. 

"I would encourage parents to see and celebrate the courage of their children,” says Johnson. Fill them with the words: You are strong, you are capable, you are courageous, you are smart. These words take hold and become truths that children can hold onto in the toughest times of life with diabetes.  Never underestimate your value in helping shape the courage of your child!  My parents still do this for me, and I am forever grateful.”

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