My name is Alyssa Paul, I am a freshman at The University of Georgia, a member of Dawgs for Diabetes (D4D), a CDN Chapter at the University of Georgia, and I have type 1 diabetes (T1D). Recently, D4D held our third annual “The Campus Tour: A Diabetes Perspective.” This is not just a tour, but a learning experience for prospective students with T1D and their parents.
I came to the very first “The Campus Tour: A Diabetes Perspective” event 3 years ago in 2014. I had no idea how I was going to handle not having my parents around in college. My parents were both scared as well. I was terrified I would not be able to handle college life and balance my diabetes, but it is absolutely possible! Since I attended the tour, I have now experienced the transition with diabetes to college. I am so thankful I attended the event because I was told “everything will be fine. You just have to take care of yourself.” That is exactly what I have had to do.
This year, I got to be a part of this event as a member of D4D. While working at the event I met parents who were very concerned about college and diabetes, as well as students who were just as terrified as I was several years ago. Now that I have experienced the campus tour from a different perspective, I let the families know that everything does work out the way it is supposed to.
Just like every year, the tour was a well-organized event. Riley, D4D’s chapter leader, is always on top of things. She applied for a grant from the College Diabetes Network. This year’s was a successful blogger, speaker, and T1D, Kerri Sparling. There were several panels for families to sit in on, just like previous years. I was a part of the “Transition Panel” with three other freshmen, Mark, Max, and Sarah. We focused on explaining to parents and students what to expect when transitioning from high school to college with diabetes. During our panel, the parents seemed more concerned than the students. I remember that being the case when I took the tour as a prospective student.
The parents asked what has been our biggest challenge so far in college with diabetes, and we all said “managing our blood sugar.” We were also asked what is was like to live with a roommate. Fortunately, we’ve all had good experiences with our roommates, and that was a relief for the prospective students and their parents.
This event calmed their fears as it did mine when I attended as a future college student. The parents and students were a blessing to talk to and spend time with. I am certain that the parents had a lot of their questions answered and their worries were soothed leaving the event - like my parents three years ago.
It was very rewarding to be a part of the 3rd Annual “The Campus Tour: A Diabetes Perspective.” It is not every day that I get to talk about my personal experience with diabetes. Fortunately, being a part of Dawgs for Diabetes makes it easy to discuss my T1D with others.