Student Spotlight Shannon Marren

Student Spotlight: Shannon Marren

Shannon Marren, a senior biology student, sat down across from me and politely pulled out her diabetes supplies to monitor her sugars: “I have to make sure that’s under control first.”

Marren was diagnosed with Type One Diabetes at a pivotal time in her life at age 14, right before the start of a new chapter in her life: high school. She said of being diagnosed with the disease, “It made me grow up a lot faster and I have become more independent because of it.”

She keeps a super positive attitude and, while at first it was a major life change and transition, she never asks ‘why me;’ she simply worked on managing it and moved on with her activity-filled life.

Marren uses an omnipod, which is a small insulin pump that provides the wearer with 3 days worth of insulin at a time. She is now also using a dexcom, which is a glucose-monitoring pod that Marren also wears. “I am like a robot,” Marren joked.

Marren is a true testament to the fact that chronic diseases do not define lives. In fact, Marren has found inspiration in her disease and is on track to be pre-med. Her concentration in biology is molecular cell physiology.

Most students cringe when they hear that a student is a biology major or a major in the sciences of any type. Marren says she decided on the field, “to give back to the doctors and all those who helped me and saved my life.”

She loves the chance to ‘geek out’ and discuss her thesis research, which is on fetal alcohol syndrome. She was continually apologizing for her immense excitement for her research.

Dr. Cathryn Kubera, an assistant professor of biology, is working with Marren on her thesis research. She says of Marren, “Shannon is a curious and adventurous student who is passionate about science and medicine. Whether discussing classwork about Molecular Cell Biology lab, or the latest medical devices that help track patient data in real time, the excitement that Shannon has for learning about and contributing to biological research is palpable.”

Another interesting twist to Marren’s academic studies is her minor in Spanish. “It’s just so fun,” Marren admitted about the minor. She says that there is only positivity to come out of her completing her minor for her future medical endeavors.

With this combination, Marren hopes to get into the field of endocrinology and pay it forward. What this also means is that along with all of the work she is doing and all of the things she is involved in, Marren is also getting ready to apply to medical school and take the necessary testing.

Even with the demanding qualities of her academic major and minor, Marren is also involved as an honors school mentor, is in four honors societies (President of Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society, President of Alpha Epsilon Delta Honor Society, and a member of both Beta Beta Beta Honor Society and the Order of the Omega Honor Society), was an Orientation Leader for the Orange Squad this past summer, is a sister of Alpha Xi Delta and, finally, Marren is the Captain of the MU Dance Team.

Dance is something that Marren has loved and participated in since she was three years old. She admits that it is not something she thought she would ever do professionally, but it is something that she is passionate about. She claims,  “It’s my way to escape; it’s an outlet for me.”

Marren spoke of the team that she is now Captain of after holding both Secretary and Co-Captain positions on, as an exuberantly proud member. She explained that being a part of the dance team shows immense passion because it is a self-run and funded team. Because of this, Marren claims: “It shows how dedicated they are to Monmouth—they love Monmouth and they love to dance.”

Kristen Isaksen, former MU Dance Advisor and Associate Director of Financial Aid, gushed about Marren: “It has been a pleasure getting to know Shannon over the last 3 years through her involvement in the MU Dance Team. Her enthusiasm for Monmouth and for life is infectious!” 

“You can’t help but to be happy around her. She has been an integral part of the MU Dance Team and I know she will have a successful year as captain,” Isaksen continued.

Dance was the first thing that the hyper-involved student got involved with. After that, she couldn’t stop and she joined the sisterhood of Alpha Xi Delta.

Marren says of being a sister of AXiD: “It’s something so different that I never thought I would be into, but I love.” Her favorite part of being a sister is all of the philanthropy work that the sisterhood does for Autism Speaks.

After asking her how she handles the workload of being a biology major and then balances all of her extracurricular activities, she simply said, “I don’t sleep.” However, Marren did say, “Academics are my number one and that’s why I am here; it’s not all just about my extracurricular.”

Megan Ferguson, a senior history and education student, said, “What makes Shannon even more inspiring is that while being involved in an extremely demanding major and not only participating, but leading various organizations, Shannon is also a Type One Diabetic, and is therefore constantly monitoring her diabetes.”

It is quite incredible what Marren is able to accomplish here at Monmouth in addition to also monitoring Type One Diabetes and doing thesis research. It is because of her passion for each of the things she is involved in that she manages to do everything and still wear a smile every day.

Michael Fazzino, a sophomore communication student and fellow orange squad leader from New Student Orientation 2017, said, “She’s a really driven person and working with someone as amazing and motivated as her was an incredible experience.”

Ferguson says what many of us now think after learning about Marren: “In my opinion, the world needs more people like Shannon, but then again, that’s what makes her so special.” 

Join Marren’s team, “Shannon’s Sugar Shakers,” in her eighth year walking for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) on Oct. 22 in Ridgefield Park, NJ to raise awareness and money for Type One Diabetes research.

PHOTO COURTESY of Shannon Marren