When Life Hands You Lemon. . . | BeyondCeliac.org
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When Life Hands You Lemon. . .

 Dhanu Thiyagarajan, a student at University of Pittsburgh and founder of Gluten Free My Campus, the university’s gluten-free student group share their experience as a gluten-free college student.

The following is a guest post by Dhanu Thiyagarajan, a student at University of Pittsburgh and founder of Gluten Free My Campus, the university’s gluten-free student group.  Dhanu is also a Campus Ambassador for Udi’s Gluten Free Foods. 

Being gluten-free is difficult, but being a gluten-free college student is even harder. I found this out the hard way – from experience. I came to University of Pittsburgh unaware of the city, college-life and, worst of all, where to get safe gluten-free food.

I did come under one assumption that turned out to be very wrong; I believed that there would be a gluten-free club. So many people are gluten-free and especially on a college campus in the city, how could there not be a gathered group of people who know the best gluten-free restaurants and the inside secrets? Once I got there, I realized this club didn’t exist and that scared me a lot.  I wasn’t sure why there wouldn’t be a group on campus.  Was I the only gluten-free student?  Was finding gluten-free food so easy that there was no need for a special group or club?

I gave the situation some time, but finding gluten-free options was terribly difficult. This led me to think there couldn’t be any other gluten-free students, but statistically that made no sense. So, I decided to form the club myself.  It didn’t exist, but it needed to. The university needed improvements and I needed help finding gluten-free options. I talked to the nutritionist and the chef at the dining hall (among other people) and found ways that I could connect with other gluten-free people on campus. I was able to engage roughly 10 people and set up a casual meeting.

The day of the meeting came, and I was so excited to meet these other people and talk about the struggles of being gluten-free on campus.  To my dismay, nobody came.  Not a single person.  I figured they didn’t have any problems being gluten-free, and that this didn’t matter to them.

Thankfully, my parents and friends convinced me to try again, so I did. This time, fellow gluten-free students came to the meeting!  I am so glad they convinced me to give it a second try, because now Pitt has a fantastic gluten-free club: Gluten Free My Campus!

Gluten Free My Campus Officers

It all worked out in the end; meet the officers of Gluten Free My Campus!

Have you had a similar experience, or do you know a gluten-free student who did?  I’d love to know what their experiences are like on other campuses!

- Dhanu


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