Knowing Your Resources

Charlotte Pillow, University of Rochester '19

For the past three years, the College Diabetes Network Chapter at the University of Rochester has hosted two sister events: One for parents of incoming first year students with health concerns and one for the students themselves. Our Chapter wanted to educate students on the resources available on campus; as students with chronic illnesses who have gone through the transition to college ourselves, we know it can be a stressful time when you need all the help and guidance you can get. We decided last year to open up the event to any student with health concerns, not just those with diabetes. We felt the event could prevent diabetic students from feeling isolated and also have a broader impact on our campus community.

Our event for parents of new college students provides a detailed view of the health resources on campus. The event is not only relevant to those with a child with diabetes, but also for parents with children who have allergies, chronic diseases, disabilities, and other health concerns. The event features a number of panelists: advisors from different services on campus, including our University Health Services (UHS), University Counseling Center (UCC), the Center of Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL), University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC), and Dining Services. Each panelist explains how their respective resource can benefit students at the University of Rochester. For example, our Dining Services can grant students with food allergies access to the allergen-free pantry in Douglass Dining Hall. Our UCC offers ten free counseling sessions with a therapist to every student. The URMC offers a transition program for students with diabetes who want to transition to an adult endocrinology unit from a pediatric unit. CETL provides testing accommodations to students, such as breaks without time-penalty, and the list goes on! Through Q&A discussion, parents are able to learn about these valuable services offered by the University of Rochester. Parents we met through our events are excited to learn more about the College Diabetes Network and feel more confident in the safety of their child while at college because of our CDN Chapter on campus.

Our student event introduces the same topics to incoming first year students, but in a peer-to-peer setting. Two of our CDN Chapter members ran the student event: Rachel Coons, the Chapter Secretary, and Charlotte Pillow, the Chapter President. The CDN students speak about their personal experiences dealing with a chronic illness on campus and inform the first year students about the resources on campus. Using the College Diabetes Network’s Off To College Event Guide, we discuss the challenges of college that may interfere with wellbeing and how students can utilize campus health resources to overcome any roadblocks. Of course, one of the resources we highlight is the College Diabetes Network, which provides a safe and understanding environment to vent about the struggles of college life and diabetes, as well as a way to give back, educate others about diabetes, and advocate for students with diabetes. Students feel welcomed onto our campus after our event. It is exciting to meet others right off the bat who understand and relate to your experiences. Transitioning to college can be stressful, but educating students about the resources on campus can clarify just how much support they have behind them. 

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The College Diabetes Network (CDN) is a 501c3 non-profit organization whose mission is to provide innovative peer based programs which connect and empower students and young professionals to thrive with diabetes.

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