Jacqueline Park (Utah) - NCCL Co-Chair

School: University of Utah

Major: Computer Science with Minors in Psychology and Disabilities Studies

Hometown: Salt Lake City, Utah

Hi everyone! My name is Jacqueline Park, but everyone calls me Jacque. I'm a sophomore at the University of Utah. I'm pursuing Computer Science in hopes of being a part of the data analysis side of medical research, specifically within autoimmune disorders diagnosed in pediatrics. I was diagnosed with indeterminate colitis in January of 2020, so I just passed my three year anniversary of my diagnosis! At first, I just wanted to be normal; I tried to hide my illness behind a facade of normalcy because I didn't want my peers to see me differently. But as I continued to get sicker, and my hospital visits became more frequent, it became harder to pretend I was okay. Eventually, after a year of suffering in silence, I told my story via social media, and the outpour of love and support was overwhelming. Sharing my experience with IBD with the people I care about helped me accept my diagnosis and the life-altering effects it will have. Overall though, the last three years have been an absolute rollercoaster; I've had multiple scopes and procedures and too many needle pokes to count. I've tried different steroids and three different biologics before I found one that seems to work (I've been on it for a year and a half now!). Now, my inflammation levels are down and I'm in clinical remission, which means I've been able to resume regular daily activity. IBD forced me to grow up at a speed much faster than my peers as I became accustomed to medical jargon, a different life regime, and constant medication changes and visits, but I also became more emotionally resilient and strong in the face of adversity. Being diagnosed with IBD has given me this newfound confidence in who I am. This is why I joined the NCCL; I wanted to use my voice, and my experiences, to advocate for such a negatively stigmatized disease. Now, as the co-chair of the group, I'm excited to continue our efforts to find a cure for IBD! I'm so thankful for this group of amazingly strong individuals!