2019 C.C.Y.A.N. Fellows

See someone you want to connect with? Send us a message here.


Erin Ard

Hi everyone! I wanted to kick off this new year by sharing more about me and my experience with IBD.

For a snap-shot of my life, I love creative writing, drawing, vamping up old furniture, and DIY projects. You can usually find me watching a romantic comedy with a glass of wine, playing Mario Party with my roommates, cooking up new healthy recipes from scratch, or camping at my parent's trailer in central Wisconsin. I am terrible at taking pictures, so I rely on my friends to document our adventures. I love everything about fall - the comfy sweaters, jumping into piles of leaves, and pumpkin spice flavored coffee drinks. I found a love for human ecology and nutritional sciences when I attended University of Wisconsin - Madison, Go Badgers! I have a passion for helping others live a healthy life, especially people living with a chronic disease. I am 23 and I've been living with Crohn's disease for 10 years now.

Crohn's has had a great impact on how I live my life. It has taught me a lot about myself and as much as I like to think otherwise, still affects me today. Many of my symptoms have faded but I can name a few that decided to stick around. Hip joint pain, gut pain, fatigue, random short-lived fevers, anxious thoughts, and more. Although, I'm still trying to figure out if and how Crohn's plays a role in my anxious tendencies.

I've been on Remicade for 9 years, so its normal to see small bruises on my arms from IV tubes and getting blood drawn. One of the many perks of living with Crohn's is having people point out or question my colorful arm bruises :)

Aside from medication, a healthy, well-balanced diet has been my focus since I was diagnosed. I also try to incorporate other practices to make a healthy lifestyle for myself. I have adopted mindful practice to discern any connections between Crohn's and my mental health. It has also been a great way to manage stress, especially while I was an undergrad. I also try to stay fit by doing fun exercises! For me that is yoga, Pilates, dancing, hiking, running, you name it! I strive to keep both my body and mind strong.

Although, IBD will manifest in everyone's bodies a bit differently and everyone will have different life experiences, I believe we can all learn from each other. I don't know many people with IBD and haven't had much of a voice in the IBD community yet, so I joined the CCYAN network to connect with others and share my views. I am using this platform as a way to connect with you and find peace by bringing this source of insecurity to the surface. I hope some of you will find thoughtful inspiration from my stories.


Leah Clark

Leah Clark is a Senior at the University of WI-La Crosse. She is majoring in physics with a focus on nuclear physics. She has been involved in undergraduate research in this field, which has created many opportunities and experiences for her to travel around the world for experiments as well as present research.

Leah is very passionate about science advocacy and plans to attend graduate school in nuclear physics or nuclear engineering with the hopes of working in science policy. Along with science advocacy, she is also an advocate for something that hits closer to home, her Crohn’s disease.

Being diagnosed at the age of 12, she has spent almost half her life battling the disease. It has been a tough journey for her, but one she would not change. She has been involved in many organizations that support this disease, such as being a camper and counselor for the CCFA Camp Oasis and being a patient advocate for Patients for Affordable Drugs.

Now, she is a Crohn’s and Colitis Young Adult Network Fellow. With this position, she hopes to help those in the Crohn’s and Colitis community through advocacy, leadership, and involvement with the program.


Erin Dunne

Hello everyone!

I am a current sophomore at Spring Arbor University in Michigan and am majoring in Psychology and Health Science. I have always been fascinated by the complexity of the brain and its contributions to our behavior. Although I have also been interested in nutrition and the human body, it was not until I was doing my own research to aid in managing my symptoms that my interest grew into a passion. My hope is to take my passion and knowledge of the mind/body connection to not only help individuals live their healthiest lives but also help educate on the powerful effects our thoughts and mind can have on our body.

I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease in 2007 and have experienced a mild condition that resulted in clinical remission. It was not until two years ago that I fell out of remission and have been experiencing a series of flares since. This time of healing has helped me become more in tune with my body and has encouraged me to acknowledge its needs. Throughout this mindset change, I have learned to embrace the power of nourishing foods, mindfulness, and movement- concentrating on utilizing my bodies natural healing abilities as best as I can. While most of my energy is focused on a holistic approach to treatment, I am taking Humira as well. The combination of the treatments is giving me hope in managing my disease as much as possible

For an overview of my life- I love to read, travel (but being a broke college student is no joke), create and try new recipes and spend time outdoors! One of my favorite activities is hiking and simply exploring outside. I feel happiest when I am able to walk on trails, hang up my hammock, listen to music and enjoy a little picnic. My friends and I do this whenever we can and it is the absolute best! When I am not able to spend my time outside, which in Michigan, is more than I would like, I can usually be found watching an obnoxious amount of movies, reading, or playing Exploding Kittens with friends. I also love to stay active- which is normally through yoga, pilates, running (I use that term loosely), and sometimes boxing! I enjoy trying out new fitness classes whenever I can.

I am excited to join CCYAN and hope to not only help give others a voice but assure members of this community that they are not alone in their journey. I look forward to sharing with you all and hopefully influence you to form connections with one another!


Are you interested in being an International IBD Fellow? 

A premier yearlong program for young adults who have been diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease or ulcerative colitis. 

You must be:

  1. Diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease or ulcerative colitis.

  2. Willing and eager to share your story and become a strong advocate for the IBD community.

  3. Between the ages of 14 to 22 years old. If you do not fall in this age range and would still like to apply, please contact us here.

  4. Must be able and willing to participate in professional and personal development opportunities throughout the year, including but not limited to a monthly development session, writing one article per month, and submitting video blogs.

Participants will receive a stipend in addition to professional development opportunities and an alumni network. 

Participants will curate content by submitting at least:  

  • One article per month relating to Inflammatory Bowel Diseases

  • Four video blogs throughout the year 

  • Participate in webinars and additional media opportunities

Applications have closed for the 2019 cohort. Check back in August to apply for the 2020 cohort!