The summer before my first semester of college, I came across the College Diabetes Network by chance. I knew right then and there I had to get involved with them. I felt as if nobody on campus really knew what type one diabetes (T1D) was and my campus had no resources for college students who have diabetes.That ignited the fire to bring that community and awareness of T1D to campus. Everybody at CDN was so helpful and responsive. They made the process of starting the club easy and soon after filling out paperwork for the school club affiliation, the Southwestern Michigan College CDN Chapter was recognized as an official club on campus.
As a club, we hosted tabling events and had many opportunities to spread the word about the College Diabetes Network and the ways it can help. Now in my second year of college and last semester at this school, our club has received many opportunities. Recently, I had the privilege of attending the Type One Nation Summit in Chicago to table for CDN and be a part of the Off to College panel. In the past I was involved in activities related to diabetes such as fundraisers, walks, and camps, but I’ve never attended a convention like this before. At first I was hesitant but something told me that this would be an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. So, I packed my bags and took the next train out to Chicago.
Once the convention started the next day, I met a girl named Hannah who was also a Chapter leader like myself, and we set up the College Diabetes Network booth. There were numerous vendors and companies showcasing the latest diabetes technology and breakthroughs in the diabetes world. Along with the vendor hall, there were breakout sessions where people were able to learn about different topics in diabetes, such as the psychosocial aspects of having diabetes. I was lucky enough to participate in the Off to College Panel where prospective college students and their parents were able to discuss the transition from high school to college life.
The whole experience that day was amazing. I was able to talk with parents whose kids started their own Chapters, alumni of the College Diabetes Network, and even families who had never heard of the College Diabetes Network before.
Apart from all of the excitement surrounding CDN, it was relieving and exciting to be in an environment where people were just like me and doing the same things for their diabetes, whether it’s with insulin pens or pumps, CGMs or glucose meters. Being around others with T1D reminds me that I am not alone and because of events like Type One Nation and opportunities given through the College Diabetes Network, I am able to make connections and better myself. Having that chance to engage with others who live with T1D allows our community to relate and share the triumphs of conquering the highs and lows that come with it.Taking the chance of attending the event has helped me open up about my diabetes and how it coincides with college. It taught me to not be ashamed of T1D and to be confident about telling my story, as well as allowed me to teach others about T1D. By taking this chance, I received much more than I expected and grew from the experience. If you get the opportunity to do something like this, take the chance because you will not regret it.