New College Diabetes Network chapter on campus aims to increase diabetes awareness
Washington University students are working to educate and raise awareness about diabetes within the student body, which they say often holds misconceptions about the disease.
Junior Hansika Narayanan and freshman Melanie Goldring have started a College Diabetes Network (CDN) chapter at Washington University. According to the national CDN’s website, the organization is dedicated to helping students with diabetes by offering peer support and access to information and resources. The new chapter held its first general body meeting last Thursday.
The campus chapter aims to achieve similar goals as well work towards good common misconceptions, such as the distinction between type 1 and type 2 diabetes, the fact that young people can get the disease—typically type 1—how diabetics maintain their diets, and how one does not need to be overweight to have the disease.
“We want to reach out to a community of people who may not have anywhere to go to,” Goldring said. “We want to provide a safe space for people with diabetes, for people who know someone with the disease or for those who just want to learn more”.
Until now, there has not been a place on campus that has brought students together around the issue of diabetes. Narayanan and Goldring hope CDN can provide this place.
“We noticed there has not really been a presence of support on campus for being diabetic. Of course there’s SHS to take care of medicine, but a peer community seemed to be something that was missing and we hope this would help fill that void,” Narayanan said.
In addition to providing a space for discussion, CDN also hopes to host awareness raising events and check-in regularly with its diabetic members. First and foremost, however, providing a home for the diabetic community on campus is the primary focus.
“From my perspective, in college a lot of students with diabetes are faced with new situations that they don’t exactly know how to handle,” Goldring said. “We hope CDN can allow people to exchange ideas about topics that they may not want to talk to their doctors about. It’s really nice to have a peer-to-peer environment”.
The co-founders note that newly-diagnosed diabetics may also find great benefit in joining the CDN chapter on campus.
“If you are newly diagnosed with diabetes, you may not be familiar with what your symptoms are. It would help a lot to be able to talk to others about what they feel when their blood sugar is too high or too low and so on,” said Narayanan.
Also in attendance was senior Sandya Muchimilli. Muchimilli is not diabetic, but she has many friends and family who do have the disease.
“I came out to the CDN meeting because my best friend [is] founding the organization on campus…I have many family members who are diabetic and I’d like to learn more about [the disease] and be more involved in promoting awareness,” Muchimilli said.
With additional reporting by Emily Schienvar