Why we started a CDN Chapter!

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Ashley and Nick reflect on why they started a CDN Chapter.
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Ashley Conley and Nick Morriss, medical students, Colby College CDN Chapter co-Founders
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Nick and Ashley in scrubs

Hello! My name is Ashley Conley. I am 25 years old, a medical student at UQ-Ochsner Medical School, and a type 1 for over 23 years. In the photo with me is Nick Morriss, he is also 25 years old, a medical student at Duke University School of Medicine, and he has had T1D for 11 years. We were classmates at Colby College, where we built the foundation for a life-long friendship because of our shared experiences and understanding of what it means to live with type 1 diabetes. We arrived at Colby College as experienced TIDers, confident in our abilities to manage everything college life could bring. But, like most first-year students, we were clueless!  

Nick was the first T1D on campus I met at a diabetes club event organized by Erik Douds. As a long time T1D student athlete I was familiar with managing my diabetes under different stressors. However, being away from home and a parental support system, college presented new challenges and having others that understand such issues was instrumental. A community to share in the daily struggles and answer questions from logistics (where to have prescriptions shipped) to broader management (health center appointments), or how to talk to a roommate, coach, or professor. Through online resources and social media presence, I discovered CDN and started a Chapter with a mission to unite with other T1Ds on our campus.

Why is connecting with other TIDs important on campus? For one, having other diabetics on campus that you can rely on in times of crisis is essential. For example, the winter of my freshman year at Colby College, which is located in northern Maine, we had a blizzard that brought an enormous about of snow that closed down the roads and local stores. This presented a problem because my test strips prescription was scheduled to arrive the next day, but because of the blizzard, it was delayed. I should have been fine, but because of all the running around and playing in the snow, my site had come off and I was without any blood sugar monitoring devices. With no hope of of getting to a pharmacy or delivery in time, I was luckily and fortunate to be able to send a text to Chapter members asking what to do and if anyone could help me out.

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"A major part of the CDN experience is not just restricted to a single campus, but the wider diabetic community."

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A major part of the CDN experience is not just restricted to a single campus, but the wider diabetic community. CDN provides the connection to other Chapters, and we had the opportunity to meet with fellow students from across the country. I learned more from each other about how to navigate TID college life than from any doctor (ironic as we are both in medical school now). CDN provide resources that reassured T1Ds as students and one day I would love to see the network to expand into graduate schools and medical school campuses as well.

We are forever appreciative of our time as co-presidents of our CDN Chapter. We cannot express the feeling of comfort knowing someone “always had your back,” especially with extra fruit snacks. CDN helped make college a fun and safe experience, and we highly recommend others to start or join your campus’ Chapter.

Editor's note: Did you know CDN is turning 10 this year? We are going to be posting blogs from some of our first Chapter leaders (like Ashley and Nick), highlighting some our favorites from the last ten years, and raising money we can keep going strong for another 10 years. Please help us celebrate by donating $10 for 10 years!

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Ashley headshot
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Ashley Conley
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Ashley Conley is a first-year medical student at UQ-Ochsner Medical School and is co-Founder of Colby College CDN Chapter. She graduated from Colby College in 2017, majoring in Mathematics, Economics, and Neurobiology, and received an MS in Medical Sciences degree from the Boston University School of Medicine in 2019.  Ashley is active with the diabetic community on Instagram:@aconley.21

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Nick headshot
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Nick Morris
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Nick Morriss is a second-year medical student at Duke University School of Medicine and co-Founder of the Colby College CDN Chapter. He graduated from Colby College in 2017 with a degree in Psychology and worked at Boston Children’s Hospital Emergency Department before starting medical school.