Peyton Jones, Ball State University, '20
Growing up with T1D, I didn’t know many other people with diabetes. Sure there were the few others in school, but we would often just exchange pleasantries in the nurse’s office before lunch. Coming into college, I feared it would be more of the same. But then I found The College Diabetes Network. I finally discovered the instantaneous friendship that can be built based the connection of diabetes.
Joining the organization instantly brought new opportunities. When our Chapter president proposed a trip to Roche, a medical device company with a location on the north side of Indianapolis, I knew I wanted to go. When the day came, I was very excited for the experience.
Upon arrival, the five Chapter members who were able to attend instantly received nothing but cheeriness and eagerness from the employees to have us in their facility. Various activities were planned, starting with a presentation on internships with Roche. The next part of our excursion took us on a tour of the manufacturing area on campus where test strips are made. Personally, I’m not interested by machinery of any kind unless it’s a large, really expensive camera (I guess that’s just the telecommunications major in me). However, something drew me in to this manufacturing floor once I stepped on it. I can’t exactly place my finger on it, unlike the test strips produced. Seeing each step in the process kept me wanting to learn more and see what was coming up.
Next stop was the focus group. Having never been a part of one, I was picturing a stereotypical scene from a movie in which we all filled out surveys or raised our hands in response to yes-or-no questions. Boy, was I wrong, and for the better.
For this exercise, we were asked a question, an example being “Diabetes makes me feel…” Our responses then had to be constructed based on images laid out on the tables before us. Options included everything from a rollercoaster to a chicken to an endless number of emojis. Lastly, we then placed these images into a category of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (physiological, safety, social, esteem, and self-actualization).
The final phase of the focus group was a discussion on why we selected the images and why we placed them in the areas we did. I felt as though I was able to vent any frustrations I had about diabetes and the different areas of life the disease affects to someone other than a fellow Chapter member. This was refreshing, as we were able to discuss these concerns with someone that genuinely sympathized, without needing to have the disease himself.
The visit allowed our group to grow closer, as we realized that we all have similar struggles. We began to build our “diafam,” as we like to call ourselves. I was exposed to a new hope for the strides being made in the diabetes industry. I was reminded as to why I am so active in diabetes advocacy. I want to teach others, just like I did while in a focus group that afternoon. Opportunities are everywhere, and visiting Roche definitely isn’t the last for myself or my diafam.