My name is Christina, and I am the Director of Development and Social Media Chair for Dawgs for Diabetes, the chapter of The Diabetes Link at The University of Georgia (UGA). I am a Senior at UGA, and I will graduate in May of 2021 with a degree in Nutritional Sciences. As a type 1 for six years, I am passionate about helping my diabetes community. My plans after graduation are to find work in endocrinology research or for a Diabetic supply company.
Each year our chapter hosts a campus tour from a diabetes perspective for prospective and admitted UGA students. This event provides students and parents information on everything they need to succeed in college with diabetes. In addition to a walking tour and providing panelists to answer questions, we also have a keynote speaker at our event each year.
We knew the event this year would have to look different under the current circumstances with COVID-19, so we got to work early. The brainstorming process began right when the fall semester started in August. Our leadership team decided that the most beneficial way to host this event would be as a webinar that could be live-streamed on our Facebook page. It would also be recorded so people could view it after the fact. After we determined our method of presentation, we set the date to be October 25th and then got to work finding panelists and speakers.
The process of finding panelists was the hardest challenge to overcome. We decided to reach out to previous speakers and thankfully received a great response. On the day of our event, we were able to provide seven professional panelists along with two amazing Dexcom Warrior speakers. Our panelists included a Dexcom representative, Tandem Diabetes representative, UGA Disability Resource Center Coordinator, UGA professor with type 1, three UGA campus tour guides, and a few current Dawgs for Diabetes club members. The topics covered by our panelists were how to receive accommodations for diabetes through the university’s Disability Resource Center, an overview of our dining halls, how to connect your roommate or friend on campus to the Dexcom follow app, the best snacks to keep close when you are running to class on low blood sugar, and how to discuss your accommodations with your professors.
As the Social Media Chair, I had so much fun promoting this event. I am also thankful for my chapter’s Vice President and President for stepping up and completing behind the scene tasks such as creating the tour t-shirt, formatting the webinar, and reaching out to other panelists. This event was truly a team effort and I am so grateful for the Dawgs for Diabetes leadership team because without us all working together this event would not have been possible.
The event was structured so students and their parents could ask anonymous questions to our panelists and hear their answers live! I was personally so encouraged by our speakers and was thrilled that we were able to answer so many questions for upcoming college students. The questions asked from the students varied from broad to specific in terms of how to manage diabetes on a college campus. A few of the questions asked were “when and how can I receive accommodations,” “what is the best way to bring up my glucagon emergency pen to my roommate?”, and “what is the food like at The University of Georgia.”
Our Dawgs for Diabetes President, Reed, is a senior this year. She has had T1D for 11 years and plans to obtain her master’s degree in social work from UGA. From her perspective, the hardest part about the event was knowing students couldn’t come to UGA’s campus in person. She told me, “this event is usually a great time for young students with diabetes to connect with other students, learn more about diabetes management on their own, and experience the magic of a college campus. As much as we wanted to give that to our students, we could not in good conscience promote an in-person event this year. That being said, I feel like we did the best we could in transitioning by creating this webinar event. Students could log on from anywhere in the country to learn more about diabetes in college. Not only was this event arguably more accessible, but it was also able to be recorded and now is a permanent resource for future students on our Facebook page – which is incredible!”
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