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Chase Kroll connects with others using his communication skills

East Carolina University senior Chase Kroll first began writing as a way to connect with others. His time at ECU has allowed him to explore different ways to write and communicate.

Kroll builds upon his journalistic skills gained through the ECU School of Communication while serving as the editor-in-chief of The East Carolinian and during internships like the one he held with Major League Baseball.

Last summer Kroll’s internship in Manhattan gave him the opportunity to work with professional sports journalists. “I worked at the Yankees field, the Mets field, on Park Avenue where the office is located,” Kroll said. “I did a lot of cool stuff…I was involved with the all-star games, which happened to be in New York while I was there."

He worked with the marketing and publications for MLB, interacting with professionals in the field where he hopes to find work one day.

“They’re (MLB) the only major sports league in charge of putting out their own content. We did the all-star games program and World Series program.”

Kroll’s initial interest in writing stemmed from his desire to tell others about living with Type 1 diabetes. He wrote “When I Got Diabetes” in 2006 to help others who were recently diagnosed.

“The book is a collection of letters that are conversations between me and 60 other Type 1 diabetics,” said Kroll.

Kroll started writing the book around the time he started attending American Diabetes Association Camp Freedom in Pennsylvania. Connecting with others who had diabetes at the camp made him feel more comfortable with his chronic disease. Kroll reached out to people with diabetes of different ages, some of whom were in their late 70s, to present their stories about when they were first diagnosed.

“Self-publishing the diabetes book was much more of a community service project than it was an outlet for me to try and become a writer,” said Kroll.

Every summer Kroll returns to camp, now as a counselor. He enjoys going back to help the children and connecting with his peers, who are also now counselors.

“I’ve volunteered for five years and (I look after) about 10 kids a year. That’s about 50 kids that I’ve been able to help and stay in touch with,” said Kroll. “My first year, I had a group of 8-year-olds and now they’re 13 years old and I see them every year. That’s a cool feeling,” he said.

Kroll said he is looking forward to this summer when he will start training at the camp to become a head counselor.

Why ECU?
My roommate and I knew we wanted to go down south because we both had ties to the southern area. We took a tour of some southern schools: ECU, UNC, NC State, South Carolina and Clemson. After the trip, we liked ECU the most. It was the atmosphere. We felt like we would fit in here the best and we’ve liked it ever since.

What is your experience like volunteering at camp?
The camp is for kids 15 and younger and a lot of the kids I went to camp with are still there helping out in counselor roles. We’ve established a family setting with kids my age who were there when we were younger, and are there now for the next wave of kids that we’re trying to help.

Does having diabetes make college more stressful?
I’m lucky to have had diabetes for a while before college, so it’s kind of second nature to me. I do test my blood before meals, I take medicine after I eat, and I do have to be conscious of what I eat and the activities I’m doing. But I’ve done it for so long that I don’t really think of it like that anymore. I do have friends who were diagnosed in college, and that’s a situation where you have to learn a lot on the fly. I always try to reach out and help those in that situation. It is a lot to take in at first.

What would you say to someone you don't know about dealing with diabetes?
A friend of mine was diagnosed with diabetes as a freshman and I stressed that it’s nothing too far out of the ordinary. It’s a lifelong disease, but it’s nothing that you can’t overcome and deal with on a day-to-day basis. So I really stress to learn as much as you can about the disease to factor it into your everyday life. But then after that, it’s something that’s manageable.

What was the most inspirational part about your internship?
I think the coolest part was being able to interact with proven professionals. I was surrounded by people who were journalists – they’ve been journalists for a while and they’ve been good journalists for a while. So I think the most inspirational part for me was seeing what professional journalists do. I was around people whose names I had heard before and whom I had seen on TV and now they’re in the same publication that I’m in. That was a really cool experience for me to see the real professionals, not just the athletes, but the people who were interviewing them. I saw the athletes at the all-star game but, before and after the game, I saw what the journalists were doing.

What was it like to work for MLB?
During the all-star weekend we were working as soon as the sun came up until midnight or later. The night of the all-star game I got home around 3 a.m., but it was fun the whole time. I didn’t think of it as work, I thought of it as being around people who were doing what I wanted to do, which I thought was pretty cool.

Written by: Jamitress Bowden
Photography by: Cliff Hollis

"Always strive for something bigger, you’ll be surprised what can happen."

- Chase Kroll