A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend College Diabetes Network’s Leadership Summit in Boston, MA with 11 other college students and young adults from across the country. As a graduating senior I was looking forward to sharing my college experiences with peers, industry leaders, and CDN staff. My expectations of the events were far surpassed and even weeks later I am still thinking about the friendships, networking, and knowledge I gained in a single weekend. The events were created for not only me to expand my knowledge about the diabetes community and the opportunities within it, but they also allowed me to educate industry leaders about my college experiences and issues that could be improved for future students. Exchanging tips, preferences, and experiences with other attendees brought me a level of comfort I was not expecting to receive during the weekend. It was encouraging to know that students from different colleges from different parts of the country go through the same struggles that come with having diabetes in college. The camaraderie that was shown over the three day conference is representative of someone with type 1 diabetes as a whole: supportive, open, and caring. The time spent sharing stories of success and failures brought friendships that will stay with me long after the weekend.
The industry panel speed networking was one of my favorite events all weekend. The opportunity to sit down with some of the community’s biggest companies and explain to them my thoughts and opinions was rare and insightful. Learning more about their products and options for my diabetes care while also being able to provide feedback was a great way to network and work towards better care options. With the pricing of insulin becoming a national debate it was wonderful to sit down with representatives from the companies and hear how they plan to make insulin affordable for all.The genuine interest in attendee feedback about their products allowed us to share how they can make living with diabetes better for the next generation of college students.
The Leadership Summit also gave us the ability to collaborate on future program content for CDN. After a weekend of sharing successes and failures of living in college with diabetes it was a lot of fun being able to work with my peers to pass on our knowledge to the next generation. It was well agreed upon that fellow T1Ds are where a majority of us get our best advice and opinions from. Whether it be social media or our Chapter members, the support received from our community is most valued. Keeping that fact in mind it was a great honor to create new, interactive content that could one day make a fellow T1D’s life a bit easier.
Overall, the weekend was an experience that I will never forget. The bonding and collaboration with peers furthered my network of community support. The knowledgeable presentations from community and industry leaders have personally improved my diabetes care and outlook. I am proud of what I have learned and shared over the weekend and look forward to working with my Chapter on instituting some of the events and outreach opportunities discussed.
Editor's note: read about Ryan's experience at the Leadership Summit, specifically how he gave insight into his disability/accessibility office on campus.