Last week, I conducted the penultimate meeting of the semester of the UMass Amherst College Diabetes Network chapter (CDN). The meetings for the past couple years have been pretty small, and this week, it was no exception. Four people showed up, to be exact, although a few others expressed wishes to attend but had previous commitments.
Some people would be discouraged by this miniscule number. And even though these meetings have generated less than a crowd, I am beyond impressed with the ideas that these students have brought with them to the meetings.
Let me back up a little bit. Last semester, presidency of the CDN at UMass fell into my lap. I ended my freshman year expecting to transition slowly into the role, but extenuating circumstances made the position under my control. Initially, I was overwhelmed. The prospect of being the leader of something that had so much potential on a campus of about 25,000 people was frightening to me. But I gave it some more thought, and I realized this was my big opportunity to get involved with an organization that I am passionate about it.
During the past two semesters, the CDN has played an enormous role in my life. It has been stressful at times, seeing as the student government has made the process of gaining registered organization status on this campus long and arduous. However, I have been fortunate to have an amazing support system along this journey. My advisor, Nurse Practitioner Christine Horn, has been there since the beginning. She helped Christina Roth, the founder and CEO of CDN, get the group started in 2009. Since then, it has thrived and achieved a great deal of success across many other college campuses in the United States. Christina and CDN’s Program Director, Jo Treitman, have been incredibly helpful l and provided me with valuable advice in revitalizing CDN on this campus. Over the past few months, we have worked together closely with a Student Advisory Panel consisting of other CDN chapter presidents to develop ideas and solutions for CDN chapters.
Furthermore, my involvement with a research program on campus has provided me with the support of Dr. Emma Dundon. She launched a mentoring program this past semester on campus, and I have worked with her to make it successful and work out kinks to ensure that this program has a future. It has been a wonderful, educational experience that has introduced me to several current CDN members.
I’ve been lucky to be in contact with so many people who genuinely care about the CDN and who want to see it flourish. Throughout my meeting last week, I couldn’t help but sit there in awe of all the ideas that my group members have had: we talked about doing karaoke fundraisers, making diabetes more sustainable, and conducting informational discussions about college life and diabetes. I couldn’t stop smiling – by the meeting’s end, I felt more confident than ever in the CDN’s ability to make an impact on the UMass campus. I’m looking forward to blogging about our projects next semester. Stay tuned!