Mentorship Matters: Hannah's Experience being a NextGen student at AADE 2018

Hannah Caudill, Chapter President at Miami University of Ohio

If you had told me two years ago that I would one day want my career to be focused around improving the lives of those living with diabetes, I would have shaken my head in firm disbelief.  Prior to college, I would have never gone out of my way to befriend other people with diabetes, let alone focus my career around diabetes. Yet things change and life can take you in directions you would have never imagined. When I became involved with the College Diabetes Network Chapter at my university, I fell in love with the diabetes community. I loved getting to spend my time with peers who also beeped like me and who understood all that goes into managing diabetes. My goals soon started to be transformed by this newfound love for the diabetes community and by the end of my first year of college I knew I wanted to work in the diabetes sector in some capacity.

This summer I was given the incredible opportunity to attend the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) 2018 conference in Baltimore, Maryland with CDN. Prior to leaving for this conference, I was looking forward to attending some interesting sessions about different topics related to improving quality of life for people living with diabetes and I was excited to get to get a clearer picture of what it might look like for me to work in the diabetes sector. Needless to say, my experience at the AADE conference completely blew me away and beat any of the expectations I had going into the conference.

Prior to arriving in Baltimore, I was given a mentor to meet with during my time at AADE.  I had reached out to my mentor and determined a time for us to get together and grab coffee.  We met on the first day of the conference and from the moment I met Ms. Carol Rasmussen, I knew I had struck gold when I was chosen to be her mentee. Carol had so much experience and insight to offer, as she  is currently working as a Nurse Practitioner and Certified Diabetes Educator in Utah. Carol was open and honest about her professional development and what lead her to where she was today. Soon we found ourselves lost in conversation about Carol’s career and my career aspirations. My expectation had been to grab a quick cup of coffee with Carol and I had assumed this incredible woman must be far too busy to spend time with me. However, Carol went above and beyond my expectations and set up several other times for us to meet during the weekend-long conference.

Carol invited me to attend a Fellows Tea as well as a dinner with some of the leading professionals in the diabetes sector. At these events, Carol made sure to introduce me to all of her colleagues and actively sought out colleagues whom she thought could offer helpful advice for my own professional aspirations. During the AADE conference, the time I spent with Carol helped expose me to different opportunities that are available to me as a young professional seeking to work in the diabetes sector.

In conclusion, there is nothing better to invest in than an experienced mentor to help show you the ropes in your desired career field. Having  Carol as my mentor helped me generate ideas I had never considered as I begin planning my career after completing my undergraduate degree. Mentors know colleagues whose interests might intersect with your own and they can help facilitate connections for you to get where you want to go. Since mentors have more experience, they can offer guidance and advice when it comes to making decisions about your future career. My time with Carol has shown me that having a good mentor can have a huge impact on your professional development. Thanks to CDN and Carol, I feel much more confident about who I am as a young professional and I feel even more inspired to improve the lives of those living with diabetes.

Editor's note:

The CDN NextGen program is sponsored by NCBDE and allows CDN students to go to various diabetes conferences with CDN staff and be matched with mentors in their desired career fields.

Interested in becoming a mentor to CDN NextGen students? Email nextgen@collegediabetesnetwork.org.

If you're a student looking to go into the diabetes sector, applications for the NextGen program open in February. Keep an eye out!


Hannah studies public health, social work and psychology at Miami University in Ohio, and is expected to graduate in May 2020. She is the president of the CDN Chapter there. Follow her on Instagram at @pumpwanderer.

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