My First Interaction with CDN & AADE at AADE19

Belle Wood, Tulsa Community College 2020
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My name is Belle Wood. I am currently in my third and final year at Tulsa Community College, and I intend on transferring to Oklahoma State University in the Fall of 2020. Currently, there is not a Chapter of CDN in the state of Oklahoma, but I plan on starting one when I transfer. I am a Nutrition/Dietetics Major. I also volunteer with the Oklahoma Chapter of the American Diabetes Association. 

I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes eight years ago in 2011. Over the years, I haven’t had many opportunities to interact with other T1Ds close to my age. I also wasn’t quite ready to be social on that level. As I have transitioned into college at TCC, I’ve only come across a handful of other students like me.

During my time at TCC, I have experienced discrimination from the college itself. This discrimination led me to search for outside help not connected to the institution. As it stands, there really isn’t anything established in Oklahoma that aims to support students with diabetes. I found out about CDN while searching online. 

When CDN’s NextGen Leadership Program opened applications for this year’s conferences, I applied and was selected to attend the American Association of Diabetes Educator’s Annual Meeting 2019. This was my first in-person interaction with  CDN and my introduction to AADE as a whole in a professional sense. I was paired with an NCBDE mentor, Melanie Batchelor. The best advice I took from her was to not be afraid to put myself out there and introduce myself to others. As a clear-cut introvert, this type of advice puts me way out of my comfort zone. Once I began doing this, however, I found that I wasn’t as scared or intimidated as I used to be. It was fairly easy to talk to other people during the AADE sessions. 

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At the conference, I made friends that will last a lifetime. For the first time in my life, I was around more than two or three T1Ds close to my age. While I may be starting a CDN Chapter on my own, I now have people I can rely on for advice and ideas for the future. I have also connected with an OK State student that previously attended the ADA Scientific Sessions 2018. She is helping me lay some groundwork so I can take over the Chapter when I arrive next fall.

The College Diabetes Network has forever changed my life. My hope is to eventually have a Chapter at every university in the state. I want to give college students with diabetes in Oklahoma the opportunity to be a part of something that will benefit them during the most important years of their lives. 

Editor's note: the CDN NextGen program is possible through the support of NCBDE, Lexicon Pharmaceuticals, and Sanofi.

Read the rest of the NextGen Leader experiences at AADE and other conferences here!



Belle Wood

Belle's career goals are to be a CDE and RDN. She found out about the College Diabetes Network after she experienced discrimination at her college and did not receive the support she needed from Disability Services. She is working to start the first CDN Chapter in the state of Oklahoma. She has had T1D for over 8 years now.