Queen’s student Jaylyn Watson awarded with Crohn’s & Colitis Canada AbbVie IBD Scholarship

Nursing student talks experience with IBD

AbbVie IBD Scholarship recipient aims to raise awareness and provide comfort for those living with Crohn’s and colitis.
Supplied by Jaylyn Watson

Queen’s student Jaylyn Watson, Nurs’ 22, was awarded the Crohn’s and Colitis Canada AbbVie Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Scholarship.

Each year, 10 postsecondary students living with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis are awarded the $5,000 scholarship. Recipients are students who exemplify outstanding leadership in their community and “strive to maintain an optimal level of wellness.”

Before receiving this year’s award, Watson advocated for Crohn’s and colitis awareness by providing support and solidarity. In an interview with The Journal, she discussed the initiatives she’s worked on to create a space for folks to understand the condition.

Affecting 300,000 Canadians, the typical age of onset for the two main forms of IBD is adolescence or early adulthood. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis can affect a student’s ability to attend class, participate in extracurricular activities with peers, or work to support tuition and other educational expenses.

Diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at 14, Watson said the condition adds to the stress she experiences from the university.

“The stresses of university and being away from my family all piled up and I got into a really bad flare during the fall of my second year, which is unfortunately the hardest year of nursing school.”

The AbbVie IBD Scholarship aims to alleviate some of the academic stress that Crohn’s can exacerbate by easing the financial burden of students living with the condition.

Watson said she’s very grateful for receiving the scholarship.

“It will at least take away some of nursing’s financial pressures,” she said.

As an executive member of Queen’s University’s Crohn’s and Colitis Committee, Watson helped carry out the club’s mandate of destigmatizing the disease and supporting members of the IBD community, as well as providing information about IBD to the otherwise uninformed.

“[The club] is mainly about creating a safe space for people to approach the committee and ask questions about Crohn’s and Colitis as well as providing support for people,” she said.

On top of their outreach initiatives, the committee also works to improve the lives of Crohn’s and colitis patients through research fundraising.

The club’s Instagram serves as a channel for support and solidarity, as well as a hub for IBD resources and ways to get involved with fundraising.

“Growing up I was ashamed about my diagnosis but was finally able to find support when I started talking about my IBD with other people who had it. It empowered me in a way,” Watson said.

With the goal of becoming a pediatric nurse, Watson said she wants to provide comfort for those going through what she knows first-hand to be “a very scary and transitional time.”

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