A Message from Our Founder
My name is Christina Roth, I am the founder and president of College Diabetes Network (CDN) a non-profit organization which connects college students who live with Type 1 diabetes. CDN’s mission is to empower and improve the lives of students living with Type 1 diabetes through peer support and access to information and resources. I founded CDN as a junior in college when I discovered that there were no support services or resources available to college students with diabetes.
I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 14, when I was a freshman in high school. Being diagnosed with diabetes, I suddenly had to worry about giving injections, pricking my finger at least 6 times per day, always feeling sick, accepting that it was a part of my life, and all the while knowing that it was never going to go away. With so many overwhelming thoughts and fears, high school and academics were not a top priority in my life. When I started college at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2007 I had taken control of my diabetes and was able to feel “normal” for the first time since my diagnosis. It wasn’t until I was on the Dressage Team, getting straight A’s with an overloaded course schedule, and exercising every day that I realized how much of my life diabetes had taken from me while in high school. In addition, the food offered at my University’s dining commons made my sugars extremely hard to control as there were very few choices which were actually good for my dietary needs as a diabetic. I was very lucky on my campus, as our health services had a nurse practitioner who used to have diabetes before she received a pancreatic transplant. Aside from her, very few people had much insight into diabetes or understood its medical complexity. “Diabetes” wasn’t even a disease/ health concern on their website.
It was at this time that I began to try to get in touch with other students with diabetes and soon found that not only were there no support groups for college students with diabetes, there were no support services on campus either. To simply keep my blood sugars under control I had to control every aspect of my life, every minute of every day, the intensity of which was exhausting. For many students this takes a significant toll, and can lead to serious physical and psychological side effects. Support can help to counteract the toll such strict management creates, and prevent such side effects.
With the struggle of living with diabetes on campus and my interest in meeting other students coping with the same experiences, I started a group to connect with other students. I soon encountered considerable resistance from health services in informing other students about the support group, despite the assistance from a nurse practitioner from health services who was involved in forming the group. Due to the difficulty of raising awareness about the group, I created a website to facilitate communication between students at universities and to provide suggestions on forming groups despite resistance they may encounter from administrators. The site became a way to help other schools form groups and to provide suggestions on making their campuses more “diabetes friendly”. Through this, College Diabetes Network was born and has continued to grow and expand its services.
The College Diabetes Network (CDN) is now a national 501c3 non-profit organization, and is the only organization which focuses solely on this underserved population. In 2012 alone, we have nearly doubled the number of students interested in starting a chapter and expect up to 40 chapters in varying stages of development to kick off the 2012 fall semester.
I would like to especially thank all the people who helped to make CDN possible, without them CDN would not exist.