A few weeks ago I conducted this year’s first meeting of the College Diabetes Network’s UMass Amherst chapter. An hour or so prior to the meeting, my mind was racing with all sorts of concerns. Would we have any new freshmen in attendance? How many people would show up in general? Was I prepared?
Just as I was about to panic, I remembered that the College Diabetes Network (CDN) started here at UMass five years ago. It was created by Christina Roth who has Type 1 diabetes, and was then a UMass student searching for peer support. Her first meeting was attended by just a few people, but she understood how great the need was for diabetes peer support in college. She turned CDN from a little group on one campus into a national program. There are now approximately sixty campuses across the country with CDN chapters. Christina (CEO and Founder of CDN) and Jo Treitman (CDN’s Program Director) have worked closely with student leaders from each chapter to ensure success.
On October 1st, the national CDN website relaunched with exciting new features. I spoke with Amanda Cedrone, CDN’s Outreach Coordinator, to learn more.
“The website is built, primarily with students in mind,” Amanda said. “That being said, we built specific sections of the site for Parents, Health Care Providers, Friends and Roommates, and Campus Administrators.” Amanda explained that there will be a great deal of information and resources catered to these different kinds of audiences. “These resources range from documents that the CDN team has created, to resources from partners and other organizations that we thought would be helpful to our students.” Among these resources are How to Talk to Friends and Roommates, Type 101, and Diabetes Cheat Sheet for Professors. I enjoyed a preview of each document and can say with confidence that these will be immensely useful for the new people that any college student with diabetes will meet while at school.
I was fortunate enough to get a sneak peek at the site design, and immediately noticed the new look. Amanda told me that “the new website is part of our rebranding, with new colors, design, photos, etc. We feel it is much more engaging, representative of who we are as a team, and much more representative of what we offer our students.”
I couldn’t agree more. I spent quite a bit of time exploring the new site and marveling at all the information that the CDN team has made available.. The site was easy to navigate and I could find topics that interested me most, such as how to deal with “the real world” upon graduating – from different career tracks to how to stay involved as alumni, CDN has any and every category covered.
I was pleasantly surprised by the improved search functions on the website. For instance, the Scholarship page now lists many more scholarships than before, and users may sift through them to determine which ones they are eligible for. Similarly, the new Campus Chapters page makes it easier than before to find a chapter at a school in your area. This allows anyone interested in creating a new chapter to see who they can consult for advice or partner up with for future fundraising or advocacy events. Needless to say, the new organization of the website makes it more efficient and user-friendly than ever before.
As I reflected on all this before my meeting, my concerns were quelled. I felt encouraged by everything that has been accomplished by Christina, Jo, Amanda, and student leaders from other chapters. I remembered that if I’m ever struggling with an agenda for a meeting, a quick look at the new CDN website will definitely help me generate some ideas that people will be excited to talk about.