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Feb. 17, 2022

#58 TEEN SERIES Part 6: The College Diabetes Network with Molly Johannes

#58 TEEN SERIES Part 6: The College Diabetes Network with Molly Johannes

Even if your child with type 1 diabetes is a toddler, it's never too early to start planning for those future college years! Today my guest is Molly Johannes from the College Diabetes Network (CDN). Listen in as we discuss all the resources and support CDN offers to help prepare you and your T1D for transitioning off to college and into young adulthood. The resources CDN has on their website are expansive and impressive so be sure to check them out! Also, I highly encourage you to look and see if your child's university has a CDN chapter that they can be a part of. See links below and enjoy the show.

VISIT THEIR WEBSITE! Scroll all the way to the bottom of the page to find links to their social media including Instagram, Tik Tok, Twitter and Facebook

The College Diabetes Network website: https://collegediabetesnetwork.org/

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Transcript
Katie:

This is episode 58 of the sugar mamas podcast and the sixth installment of the 10 week series for parents of teens living with type one diabetes. Today, I'm talking with Molly Johannes from the college diabetes network. Molly is going to share some tips, tricks, and resources that the college diabetes network offers to help older teens with T1. Transition smoothly. And to being a young adult and into the college years personally, I just downloaded they're off to college with diabetes guide for caregivers. It is an amazing and impressive 72 page PDF with all sorts of information, education, advice, resources, and most importantly, words of encouragement. The letter to parents at the beginning of the document was actually written by Moira McCarthy, who was the guest on the first episode of the teen series. And if you read. Is the author of the book, raising teens with diabetes, a survival guide for parents, the college diabetes network, of course also has an off to college with diabetes guide for students. Their list of resources is a really quite expansive and impressive. Definitely check them out online@collegediabetesnetwork.org. I'll leave a link in the show notes and listen in on this episode to learn more. Enjoy. You're listening to the sugar mamas podcast, a show designed for moms and caregivers of type one diabetics here. You'll find a community of like-minded people who are striving daily to keep their kids safe, happy, and healthy in the ever-changing world of type one. I'm your host and fellow T one D mom, Katie Roseboro. Before we get started. I need you to know that nothing you hear on the sugar mamas podcast should be considered medical advice. Please be safe, be smart, and always consult your physician before making changes to the way you manage type one diabetes. Thanks.

Molly:

Hi, Katie. It's so great to be here. Thank you for having me on your podcast. so my name is Molly Johannes. I have had type one diabetes. For almost 24 years now, it's going to be 24, this December 24th. So it's going to be kind of a double celebration, I guess, in that way or triple celebration.

Katie:

That's pretty good on your connection to type one diabetes. And I know you are very heavily involved with the college diabetes network, which we're going to talk about a lot more. In this episode, this episode is going to be part of our teen series. So I wanted to have you on to kind of talk about the transition. That T one D teens, as they're kind of getting into the older teen years and thinking about college planning for college, how they can get connected with you guys to hopefully make that transition a little bit easier. but I have to ask because in one of our email exchanges, Molly told me that she used to be an editor in the financial technology industry. And I just, I need to know Molly, like how does one transition from that into working the college diabetes network?

Molly:

That's a really great question. and I'm happy to talk about that. So basically after I graduated, UMass Amherst in the winter of 2014, I was desperately looking for a job and I was lucky enough to be an intern for a local, company called Broadridge advisor solutions, that previous summer, they were kind enough to invite me back to work for their customer support. and for seven years I stuck with that company. and I transitioned to their editorial team because they knew that's what I wanted to do. I had graduated with a degree in English. so my strength has always been in writing, editing, using my words essentially. so I was a member of their editorial slash content team for several years. but then, you know, 2020 happened and things that things really took a turn for the entire world. and I think that, you know, out of all of the chaos, to come out of 20, 20, a few really great things happen to, and for me, that was kind of that my eyes opened up to the fact that I wasn't doing something that was bringing me joy. I wanted to. go into work. That would make me feel like I was making an impact on the world and some sort of some sort of positive way. of course, you know, being an editor was fulfilling in some regards, but there was just kind of this void that I felt and, you know, life is too short. You have to kind of pursue what your guts telling you what your heart's telling you. so the stars kind of aligned when I saw that the college diabetes network, was hiring in June of 2021. So I interviewed for the position of community engagement manager. And, I was very pleased when they asked me to join the team because CDN has been part of my life for a decade now. yeah, so I, I used to be a chapter president at the university of Massachusetts Amherst. I, I volunteered with them for years after I graduated and I've always just had CDN the background because of everything that they've done for me. So to have the opportunity to give back to them and actually join their amazing staff. I had to take it once I got that chance. So I'm really, really glad that I did.

Katie:

That's awesome. So as community engagement manager, like, what is your role? What do you do for them specifically?

Molly:

So as the community engagement manager, I have the privilege of really just keeping a pulse on the diabetes community. and I mainly do that by running our social media accounts. so that's, that's the number one way that I find that it's. Easiest and most impactful to connect with everyone in our large community. That's all over the world. And I love it. I love having that sense of community. I love knowing what's going on in our, in our little try that we've got. And I also, as the community engagement manager, I write the newsletters that go out to our various segments, that just keep them in the loop as to what CDN is doing, what our partners are doing. and really just kind of, you know, make sure that I know what's going on at all times.

Katie:

I'm just curious to know like what social media outlets speaks most to college students right now as a tick talk Instagram. Where are we on that?

Molly:

Oh, Tik TOK is for sure their favorite thing in the world. and Instagram, I would say is a close runner up.

Katie:

Okay, that's good. I thought you were going to say Tik TOK. It's crazy. How, like I just wonder, I feel like tick-tock has really, I mean, since the pandemic really, that's another thing that's kind of come out of the pandemic, like taken off and you know, you just gotta wonder like how long it's gonna last and will it last. And I mean, everybody loves it right now

Molly:

absolutely. And it's, it's been a learning curve for me just because I consider, I guess I'm a millennial. and most of the, you know, individuals that we connect with at CDN are considered generation Z.

Katie:

Hm.

Molly:

I never thought of myself as like approaching, like, you know, an older age, but I was like, wow, like I do have a bit of learning to do when it comes to connecting with this group because. They are so agile and so on top of things. and you know, they always know what's trending on Tik TOK, whereas I'm kind of scrambling to find out what it is. I love it. It keeps me on my toes for sure.

Katie:

Oh, Yeah, for sure. I'm on tech talk, but I'm not, I feel like I'm not, as present on Tik TOK, nearly as much as I am on Instagram, but I don't know. I don't know if that's the generation I'm speaking to at the moment. Anyway. It's hard though, man. it's like, once you think you've got one social media platform figured out here comes another social media platform. You're like, I've got to figure this one out too. I don't, I don't want to.

Molly:

it's definitely trying to figure out and identify who the core audience is and then catering your content to what their wants and needs are, which is, it's a fun challenge. it certainly can be frustrating sometimes because social media is always changing. but you know, it's, it's definitely one of the more exciting aspects of the.

Katie:

Oh, yeah, I bet I don't. I don't think I follow you guys on Tik TOK. I'll have to go do that one where, when we're done chatting.

Molly:

Oh, absolutely

Katie:

Yeah. So I kinda want to go back in time a little bit and talk about, you know, your personal experience with the college diabetes network. Cause I didn't realize that you were actually like a part of that network when you were in college. You're yourself. So kind of when you were transitioning into the college years, how did you find CDN?

Molly:

Yeah, so transitioning into the college years, it was naturally a concern for myself and for my parents. now I come from a unique situation in which I am not the only type one in my family. My mom has it. And so does my aunt, who is my mom's sister and she's, she's my godmother. So growing up, I had my mom and my aunt as the type ones in my life. And that was it. Like I didn't go to diabetes camp despite, you know, my parents really encouraging me to go, doctors encouraging me to go. I had, I didn't want anything to do with it. I didn't know that peer support would be so important to me later on in life. so my mother discovered that there was going to be a talk at a local college and it was going to be a panel of type one college students and their parents. And that is where I met Christina Roth, who is the founder and CEO of the college diabetes network. she was speaking there that night and she said, Hey, if you're going to UMass Amherst, that's where I started this thing called CDN. my former roommate and this is Christina talking. she told me that her former roommate. In charge of the chapter and that she would be happy to connect me with her. and long story short, I got in touch with that, with that individual. I attended my first meeting and. I couldn't believe that it had taken me 18 years to find a group of people who got it. You know, they just understood what it was like to have type one to be going through this uncertain time of transitioning to college. You know, you're, you're independent for the first time. And for me, that was a huge wake up call just because, you know, my mom did so much of the heavy lifting for me. You know, she always ordered prescription. She set up doctor's appointments. And now I was kind of on my own and that freaked me out. so having a network of people on campus who are also type ones and could be resources, resources for me to bounce ideas off of, or, you know, get feedback from that was something that I immediately connected with and fell in love with, like, after that first meeting.

Katie:

I wonder why, why did, why do you think you didn't want anything to do with that? When you were a teen, you just kinda over it and like burned out on the whole type one world.

Molly:

I think the main thing was that I knew that I had my mom and my aunt, and I was like, these are two individuals who love me so much. Like, and I know that they're going to give me the best advice, the best care. So what kind of support, what could I possibly get outside from them that would benefit me? I think that was the main thing, but also the fact that. You know, I, I was just a stubborn kid. I was so, resistant to the idea of insulin pumps or new technology, or just changing up my routine because I figured if it's working for me now, then why mess with why mess with it? Because diabetes is so, you know, it can be so volatile and it's always one day is never exactly like the other. So I was just so against any sort of idea of introducing change into my routine.

Katie:

So what kind of things did you, mean, obviously they're like a support group and you can bounce ideas off of them and whatnot, but did you guys actually get together as a group when you were in, in college? Like, did you have a core group of type one friends or was it more of just like a panel on social media?

Molly:

Uh, so when I was in college, so this was between 2011 and December of 2014. So I was there for three and a half years. I had basically formed just a small group. I think it was maybe six or seven people total. and by the time I. got to campus. and you know, Christina ROVs, former roommate was in charge of the chapter, but she, she herself was going to be graduating soon and she was looking for a student who might be able to take over for her. And I said, well, I'll, I'll give it a try. so that's kind of how I became president. I kind of stepped into the role. and for me it was just important. I didn't really know what I wanted from the chapter, other than I wanted to meet other type ones. 'cause once I met that initial group, I was like, okay, I really want to. Just meet as many as I can and just like hear their stories and see what we can all learn from each other, just be there for each other because our, you know, our families aren't on campus with us, but we're on campus with each other. So we can be there for one another when we need it. so those six or seven individuals, You know, we would have meetings a few times a year. it was, it was never a huge commitment and we would just kind of vent. we kind of use them as like a group therapy session. a couple of times we did have some group speakers come in and talk about, you know, exercise and diabetes is one topic that I remember. so sometimes it was more so of like an educational event, but really it was more so that group support aspects that we kind of leaned into and embraced.

Katie:

that's so important to have just a, just a group of people that get it, you know, that you can through it with, I know I have a couple of mom friends that also have kids with T one D and it's just nice to Vent or bounce ideas off each other and things like that. Well, that's. That's great to know. So you said it was a pretty small group, was that like the whole, the whole chapter? And you said university of mass, mass cheesits Amhurst right. Was that like, was that, were you in just, were you in charge of just that small group or was that the chapter at the university at the time?

Molly:

so I was just involved with that individual chapter. So what has we have our chapter network is one of the I guess, service or resources that we offer to the title and committee. So, if there's a student who's going off to college, can either see if there's a CDN chapter preexisting on that campus. Or can reach out to CDN national our team and we can help establish a chapter on campus. We give them all of the tools, the resources, the guidance that they need, in order to reach out to their, Student government office and get that all set up. so that's the cool part. Is that a CDN chapter? There's no one way that it's going to look. they're all different. They all have different size members. Some can be as small as two or three people. I know that we have another chapter, that's almost 30 people. so they can really just take shape according to the needs of the students. We're running it or who are in it at the time. So that's the really cool.

Katie:

That's awesome. Okay. So let's talk about, a little bit about, what CD and offers to, those that are in college and the type one community as a whole, I think you kind of already touched on it a little bit, but like if a, if a parent is looking for something that their kid can get involved in, as they transition to college, or maybe the teen, the young adult is looking on their own, it's just like a search, right? They can get on the college diabetes network and see if the university they're planning on attending has a program. Right.

Molly:

Exactly. so there are a number of ways that, teens who are transitioning into college life or their families can get involved with CDN. I would say that the main way to do that is to follow our different social media profiles. you know, tick talk, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, we have, we have it all. And we also have a newsletter that you can sign up for that can just, it can just give you, it gives you different. Bits of information that you might be curious about, like what CDN National's doing. we like to spotlight the activities different, chapters are doing, as each month goes by, And our newsletter also keeps you posted on where new chapters are starting up and where we have existing communities, so that when a teen is ready to head off to college, then that teen will know where, where their support waiting for you. but you know, some, some teens aren't always ready to join a chapter right off the bat. Maybe they're a little bit nervous about meeting other type ones or there's something else holding them back. so. If they're, if they're nervous about getting prepared for that big move away from home, they're curious about CDM and not sure if they want to join a chapter. We do have, our off to college guide that has real world tips from, you know, fellow students who have been there, done that. And we have, we have one for students in a separate one for, for the parents and the caregivers. So those two different kinds of guides are really, really helpful tools for anyone who's about to make that transition or who is making that transition. And they're just looking for, you know, any sort of guidance or advice.

Katie:

Oh that's great. I'll put a link to everything you just mentioned in the show notes, all your social media handles and then those different guides that parents can find. and then. Sign up for the newsletter because yeah. that sounds like a great idea, especially, leading up to those. I mean, like you said, some people just might not be ready to, to make the jump And be part of a group, but, but parents can sign up for the newsletter and at least be, at least be in the know of what's going on.

Molly:

And they can join her parent Facebook group. there's one specifically for the parents, where there's a lot of conversation that happens there. see the CDN team, meaning myself and then a couple others we'll post any sort of helpful articles we think parents should look at. Like for example, we just posted one yesterday. it was a student blog post about using the Dexcom share feed. from her perspective, what are the pros and cons about it? You know, having her parents in on it or friends. so I, I know that's a hot topic. You know, with parents, sometimes they want that data because they're worried about their child. Other times, they're worried about the, you know, is it an invasion of privacy? that sort of thing. So I made sure that plug was posted to that group because I knew that that a lot of parents would be interested in.

Katie:

Yeah, that's going to be an interesting. Time in. in our lives, you know, I guess it really depends on how, how far away my daughter goes to college, I guess. I mean, you know, she's Right. around the corner. I guess I could see the benefit in following her, but if she's halfway across the country, then, you know, it's of. It's kind of like, well, well, I guess I could call her and, but there's other apps that will also call her for, you know, that it's, I guess it'll just depend. So we'll see. so what do you see? I know you said every single chapter is different and like, I'm sure there are how many chapters are there, by the way. Do you know how many altogether there are?

Molly:

Yeah. So currently we have roughly 100, affiliated chapters. And what affiliated means is that they are, they've basically. I have signed up to be a part of CDN to be a part of our specific CDN network. so that, that allows them to, you know, have access to grants and stipends that we can offer the chapter so that they can do various, events or activities on their campus. W we're able to provide them, kits, that includes like tabling materials, shirts, other, you know, different CDN swag, because when you go to a college campus and you go to a tabling event, you see all sorts of different, you know, activity groups, and they've got all sorts of fun things at their tables to give away to people, help them get interested. so it's really cool that we're able to set up our chapters with, some of those tangible items. so they can, hopefully it helps with recruitment for sure.

Katie:

Oh, that's awesome. Is there any type of like membership fee to be officially affiliated with CDN?

Molly:

Nope. There is no membership fee.

Katie:

Okay. That sounds great. I like free, free sounds great.

Molly:

priests. Great. Yes, absolutely.

Katie:

Yeah. Especially for college students, they don't have any money to spend. Right.

Molly:

exactly.

Katie:

So what, what are some of the things you've seen from, the different chapters, as far as, you know, just social events or support groups, or how are they kind of supporting one another and engaging with, with each other?

Molly:

Right. Yeah. So kind of like I was explaining, so the CDN chapters are going to be as diverse as the schools that they're at. So some chapters are more informal than others. Kind of like what mine was when I was at UMass Amherst, while some meet weekly and have guest speakers all the time and they operate as a big campus club. but the common denominator between all of our chapters is that it's all about peer support and giving back to the community. But it's been really cool. This, this November, you know, being national diabetes awareness month, we just celebrated, college, diabetes week specifically. so that ran from November 8th all the way through November 14th, which is world diabetes day. and all across social, we've been keeping up with our chapters and seeing the different kinds of fundraising events or awareness events they've done on campus. So I know that we've had a couple that have done, trivia nights. there's been a few virtual ones as well as in person. I am really excited about several of our Utah chapters they're working together. and they are doing a bowling event.

Katie:

Like the

Molly:

to see pictures from that because they took inspiration

Katie:

perfect.

Molly:

a hundred days. We had this campaign called feeling 100 and it was all about getting our students into the spirit of, you know, let's get you feeling 100 about going back to school this year. After, you know, the last year and a half of craziness, want you to feel 100. We want you to like you can get one hundreds and all of your exams. We want you to help you get that unicorn blood sugar 100. So there's a lot of meetings behind. But th this group of Utah chapters are taking it one step further and they are dressing up as 100 year olds tonight for this bowling event for diabetes awareness. So I can't wait to see it. Yeah.

Katie:

that I do. They have a name for it? Oh, I guess just feeling a hundred.

Molly:

I think, I think they're just calling it feeling 100. Um, definitely. We're going to be reposting and sharing all of those pictures on our Instagram tonight. Um, so I'm super excited to, to see what they've come up with cause their, their marketing has been awesome for it so far. Um, and it's just great to see chapters working together. We love, we love when regional chapters can meet up and connect with one another. Because the one thing that we've noticed is that, you know, I, I saw it myself when I was a student going to my very first college diabetes network, student leader retreat. that was an annual event that Celia used to do. that was my first time being in a room with like college students, students all across the country. And, you know, we came from different walks of life, but we all had this one thing in common and this one very significant thing being diabetes. And so we get really excited when. There's more and more of these groups that are able to come together because we know that they're just so thrilled to be connecting with people who get it and who are not directly in their local community. They might be a little bit more spread out. So that makes it that much more exciting.

Katie:

Well, very cool. all right. So let's, let's transition to parents because most of the listeners, you know, on the show are parents or caregivers of a type one diabetic. What, what kind of tips or words of advice do you have for us as parents to kind of help our older teens? Transition smoothly, like, and to, into more independence with their, with their type one management before they even get to college. Any thoughts on. Hey guys, it's Katie and it's time for the product feature of the week. By now, we all know Rachel Halvorson, the certified diabetes care and education specialist who has been a guest on this show, a handful of times, including the entire 10 weeks. For the newly diagnosed. I am so excited to share Rachel's new course with you guys called bolus busters. If you've been struggling with getting control of blood sugar numbers and knowing how to approach and bolus for certain foods. This course will hold your hand and walk you through it all. Not only do you have access to Rachel's artfully crafted self-paced learning modules, but you also have access to Rachel herself. She will be available to chat as you go through the course, answer any questions you may have and help you troubleshoot. So you can take the information you learn and apply it to real life situations. I recently went through the whole course myself, and was truly impressed. You will learn so much. And definitely come out, feeling more confident with your diabetes management. I will leave my affiliate link to the bolus busters course in the show notes. So you can check it out for yourself. Rachel, even offers payment plans, a sliding scale for low income households and a no risk 30 day refund guarantee. If you're not satisfied, but believe me, you will be not only that, but you can get $50 off the course by using the code SugarMomma at checkout that's S U G a. M a M a at checkout to get $50 off the bolus busters course, be sure to peek at the show notes for more information. Now, back to my chat with Molly So let's, let's transition to parents because most of the listeners, you know, on the show are parents or caregivers of a type one diabetic. What, what kind of tips or words of advice do you have for us as parents to kind of help our older teens? Transition smoothly, like, and to, into more independence with their, with their type one management before they even get to college. Any thoughts on.

Molly:

I think the number one thing is starting as early as possible. so in other words, don't wait for senior year to start letting your child run the show. I think that it's just important to make sure that you keep the lines of communication open. At all times too. so if you can, if you can come up with a communication plan years before you even think that you need one, so, you know, just encourage your child to come with you and talk to you about any sort of fears or concerns. I think that's going to be a huge thing to help ease the transition. But also finding other people who have done it. People have been there, done that, connecting with peers, whether it's connecting your team with other type ones who are college students, or if you're a parent and, you know, connecting with other parents, like on our college diabetes network, Facebook group, I think talking it out with others, you know, support. Just as important for parents and caregivers as it is for, for the children themselves or the teens. so leaning into that support and getting advice from the people who have already gone through this, I think that's a huge thing to really, really help ease the transition.

Katie:

I'm curious to know, about the whole handing, passing the Baton like, once you go off to college as a type one, you you're managing it on your own or at least I think you would be. but

Molly:

Yeah.

Katie:

you know, there's, there's so much more to it than just taking your insulin. Like, you know, like you mentioned before, like refilling all the prescriptions and, you know, making sure you're, you're getting your eyes checked and. Going to your endocrinologist when you should be and things like that. So like what for you personally, did your mom just kind of like, it's all yours now, you know, you're, you're on your own or how do you, how, what have you seen in the way of like transitioning that, that type of care with all the prescriptions and doctor's appointments and things like that?

Molly:

So candidly speaking, you know, my mom and I are very close and we, we always are talking about our diabetes and it's really great that I can be completely, you know, with her whenever I'm experiencing something, even to this day, at the age of 28, I'm still going to my mom and lets me vent to her and she vents to me. So that's what. but candidly speaking, I think we, we both wish that we had done little bit more sooner, because you know, all throughout my college years, like she did continue to order prescriptions for me. And I would kind of tell her like, oh, I'm running low on this. Can you please some more? I think that one thing that we did do really well is that. You know, once I had the ability to drive myself, to doctor's appointments, that's when she said, okay, you're going on your own? you, you don't need to be in the office anymore. You can speak for yourself. you know, your body way better than I do. And you know, she was right. Like, I, Expect for her to, to tell the doctor like what I needed or wanted, because by the time I was, know, in my upper teen years, I, I definitely knew what I needed and wanted. so she, she really did encourage me to find my own voice and use it, which I really appreciated. And I, yeah, I would just say like the insurance stuff though. I think we both wish we had done a little bit more earlier

Katie:

Yeah.

Molly:

when I turned 26, a few years ago, like that was incredibly stressful. Um, it was a very

Katie:

Yeah.

Molly:

learning curve. And to, you know, to, to kind of plug a CDN resource, we do have an incredible, resource called we speak diabetes

Katie:

Hm.

Molly:

and it is a comprehensive. basically educational program that we've got. we, we have a full insurance series now, and it's a series of YouTube videos that really break down what a T one D needs to know about insurance. it, it makes it so much less complicated. It breaks down the, those confusing terms and words that are thrown around all the time. so I, I really wish we had, we speak diabetes when I was turning 26, because I know I could've learned so much from.

Katie:

I'm pretty sure I need to go watch the wind speak diabetes series because insurance companies are hard to deal with even as a 38 year old woman. So I just so complicated. Yeah. there, I did an episode a lot earlier. It was like the fourth or fifth episode I did, which was, like tips and tricks to deal with insurance agents and agencies. And I had, I D I went into it blind, like the lady I was talking to had all the pro tips and everything, but. You know, until you are really faced with a chronic medical condition that you're, you know, you're going to be with for the rest of your life or your kid is going to be with, for the rest of your life. Like you don't, you don't really realize what a pain it is to deal with insurance. you know, if you're only having to deal with them, like every now and then, but, okay, well, that's great to know. I will definitely be looking that up. Yeah. I was, I know w while you were answering that, and you mentioned age of 26, like, I kind of forgot that that's the age now. That people get off of can get off of their parents' insurance, is 26, which I guess I'm assuming that after the age of 18, when you're legally considered an adult, like you can, call them on your own, Right. Like you can, you are in. You can be an active member and all of that. now whether or not, you or your parents choose to do that is, I guess obviously everybody's individual choice, but, I mean, that's kind of a long time, don't you think? I guess it just, it doesn't force people to become independent until that time, interesting. And that's that's after the college years and everything, so, yeah. Okay. I think parents should, I mean, even as an, even though it's like a 16 or 17 year old, like it's probably a good idea to sit down and watch those videos, just so they're aware of, you know, that while they might not be doing a hundred percent on their own in the next year or two, they're at least aware that this is coming and probably need to be paying attention.

Molly:

Exactly and something that I think that not everyone realizes about college diabetes network is that we're not just here for the college student. We're here for high school students, young professionals, parents, and families, clinicians, and college administrators in a variety of ways through some of the resources we have through our chapter networks. you know, for, for the young professional, you know, once. One of our students graduates college, you know, we want to help them. we, we want them to be able to advocate for themselves in the workplace. we have a whole young professionals, Section on our website that has a ton of different materials, job opportunities and internships available there too, with our partners. but we also have an off to work guide, that much like our off to college guides. Again, it's a free guide that you can download and it's full of tips and tricks from young professionals who have navigated being in the real world, having type one diabetes. And cause, you know, once, once you make that transition from high school to college, that's one thing. But then going from college into the working world, that's a whole nother thing. so we really want to be there to support our students through all of these transitions of young adulthood.

Katie:

That's so great. I saw y'all have like so many great resources. I didn't even realize going into it. I thought it was just like, oh, let's get together And hang out while we're in college. This is, this is, this is great. Okay. After work the we speak diabetes. what else do you got?

Molly:

oh, yeah, we've got, we've got, so this, next gen fellowship program. so this is a really cool thing that CDN does. the next gen fellowship program provides young adults opportunities to jumpstart their passion through professional development, connections, and mentorship. if there's someone who's interested in pursuing a career in the diabetes sector, we highly encourage them to apply to this program. so what, what our goal is through this program is to help empower the future generation of leaders are going to positively influence the future of diabetes care and treatment. so this program is supposed to be educational inspirational. full of peer support and professional development. So this year in 2021, we had 20 young adults participate in a virtual six month next gen program. so they were paired with a mentor. so like a diabetes educator, a psychologist or an endo, and they were able to network with this person and discuss career goals. there were leadership and skill building workshops. So there was an eight week summit series with sessions and professional writing, public speaking advocacy, and more, there's opportunities to attend diabetes conferences. Of course, most of them are virtual this year. hopefully in the future they can be more in person. And there's th there were some public speaking opportunities representing CDN within the diabetes community. and actually we just had a couple nights ago, our graduation program for these fellows and they presented the projects that they were working on. And let me tell you if it blows my mind hearing these 20 young individuals speak. they are so smart, articulate and that I would trust to be my future endocrinologist, are certified diabetes care and education specialist, wherever their path leads them. they're, they're incredible. and to know that they truly benefited from this program, they couldn't say enough about how much they gained. me that's like, so it just makes my heart sing. You know, we're, we're helping set them up with, with, what they want to do in life. And it's really interesting and inspiring that, you know, something as not fun as diabetes can really turn into this beautiful thing that, you know, this, this passion for that.

Katie:

Oh, wow. So was this the first year that you guys did the fellowship program

Molly:

So we've been doing the next gen fellowship program for a few years. I forget exactly when it launched. but we are, doing it again, this coming year I believe applications open up in January.

Katie:

Okay.

Molly:

and we are extending it, I believe to 30 spots instead of 20.

Katie:

Okay.

Molly:

so that's going to be really exciting to have even more young individuals join the program.

Katie:

And that's nationwide.

Molly:

Yeah, anyone can apply. You don't even have to be in college necessarily. we just are really looking for compelling applications. You know, people who seem like they are perfect fits.

Katie:

Wow. That's great. All right. Well, any, anything else about CDN you want to share before? I don't want to, I don't want to leave anything out because I feel like you just keep coming, keep telling me about more awesome things. So anything else?

Molly:

is it okay? Bye. I feel like the only thing that we didn't cover is, the origin story for

Katie:

I would love to hear

Molly:

really started. Yeah. so the college diabetes network is a 5 0 1 C3 nonprofit organization. and our mission is focused on providing adults with T and D the peer connections. They value the expert expert resources they need, in order to successfully manage the challenging transition to independence at college and beyond. so CDN was started by a college student in a dorm room who was craving that peer connection in college. it's been 10 years since our founder and CEO, Christina Roth came up with that idea. And again has a special connection to me because she came up with this idea at the university of Massachusetts Amherst. That's where I went to school myself. so it's been really beautiful to see how over the course of 10 years, CDN has continued to thrive. With on and off campus chapters for students and families, to help reduce isolation and provide opportunities to feel less alone. so I like, I, I know I'm so grateful for Tina and everything that she's done for our community. And I know that there are countless others who feel the same way for all of her hardware.

Katie:

Wow. So she just, I just love stories like that. You know, I think people underestimate. You know, just young adults and college age students and everything, but I mean, man, they can really come up with some fabulous, fabulous ideas sometime. I think it's, that's just awesome. And mean, 10 years, that's really not a long time. Like that's phenomenal, but it's

Molly:

Right.

Katie:

from one college dorm room to everything you just told me about an interior ten-year time, time, period. That's that's amazing.

Molly:

Yeah. And it's been so full circle for me, just, you know, being a student who heard of CDN soon after it was originally started, being a student leader for three and a half years, then graduating and kind of, you know, being a volunteer, helping out for CDM whenever I could. And then to join them as a full-time staff member, like soon after they had their 10th birthday, that's been really cool for me personally.

Katie:

that is that's really awesome. Well, I, I want to ask you, I know you have a blog, which is not related to CDN at all, which I just want to make that very clear that this is totally separate from, I know you're welcome. but I just, people need to know about it because the name is so great. It's called hugging the cactus. Right?

Molly:

Yes.

Katie:

Okay. So this is your personal blog that you do as a hobby, right?

Molly:

Yes.

Katie:

Yeah. Tell it, tell us a, a little bit about that.

Molly:

I would love to, yes. So taking off the college diabetes network hat and putting on the hugging, the cactus one.

Katie:

Yeah.

Molly:

so I first got involved in just blogging in the diabetes community when I was in college. it was kind of like a fun little side project I did. Um, I actually was a blogger for an online diabetes magazine for I think three or four years.

Katie:

Well,

Molly:

and then in 2017, so. 2017. I had been in the working world for a couple years. kind of removed a little bit from the diabetes community, but definitely craving to, connect with the community a little bit deeper, and wanting to, to kind of tap into some creative energy that I had. so that was when I was like, all right, I think I want to come up with my, my own blog. of course it was. Difficult to come up with a great name for it, because when you're, when you're coming up with something like this, you want to make sure it has a really cool, compelling name. so I got the inspiration for the name. I was at a restaurant one night and I was wearing my Omnipod on my arm and I believe I had my Dexcom on the other arm. So both devices, full display, And there was a waiter who was walking past me. I had gone up to, to use the restroom and he noticed my devices and he asked me about them and it was very non-intrusive. It was very polite. so I was of course happy, you know, it makes it easier to answer or respond to someone when they do it in a very kind way. So, so I was happy to tell him about, you know, these are my diabetes devices. This one gives me insulin, this one monitors, my blood sugar levels and. He just asked me a little bit about life with diabetes. It was probably like a two or three minute conversation. And then in closing, he said, you know, you have such a great attitude about this. Like for something that's so terrible. it's like, you're really embracing it. Like you're hugging the cactus. And that was the light bulb moment. That was like, I was like, that's what I want to call my blog. so I think like that night or the next day, I, you know, hopped online and started getting to work. And it's been four years of running, hugging the cactus and sharing stories through blog posts, about every aspect of diabetes. So it's, it's been really fun too.

Katie:

No. That's that's awesome. Yeah. people listeners go check that one out. That's so fun. And I feel like hugging the cactus has, you know, kind of has a double meaning of like, you're embracing something That's. really difficult, but like you, ironically, you have these two devices on your arm that are like literally stuck into you. So it's like the prickly, you know, the prickly pricks of the cactus.

Molly:

that's exactly why I chose that. I was like, that's the perfect description for it because you know, I'm being, I've spent my entire life being poked and prodded by like needles. So it just felt, it just resonated with me in that moment. Um, so. So thanks to that random waiter who had a very pleasant conversation with me because you know, it's not always, it doesn't always go like that in public. You know, sometimes you get people who just stare and all Google at you and they don't say anything. And it's like, oh my gosh, why are you looking at me?

Katie:

Yeah. I know I've already had to have several conversations with my daughter cause she just not liked to be. The center of attention or stared at or anything like that. And, you know, she's come home A few times from school and be like, they were just staring at my, you know, devices and I'm like, sweetie, you know, really, and truly for the most part, people are not being rude, especially little kids. Cause you know, So curious. I just, like, they're just curious, like they don't, they've never seen that and they want to know what it is. So, you know, I, you know, I kind of say it's kind of similar to when we see somebody out, you know, out in public who might have a disability that we're not familiar with, or be in like a, kind of a really fancy wheelchair. That's like, you just kind of want to look at it. You know what I mean? it's kind of the same thing. So

Molly:

A hundred

Katie:

just jump right on in there and tell them what they do. So then they won't have to wonder anymore, you know,

Molly:

Well, and that's, that's what I've loved about the support network that I've kind of fostered over the last several years, you know, into my adulthood, because I have my family who, you know, has grown up with me and my diabetes and my mom and I onset diabetes. So everyone in my family is well versed in it. I've got my childhood friends who have always been, they they've grown up around tamale and her enter needles and they're very used to it. But throughout college, you know, to like friends that I made, who didn't have diabetes, a sign of someone who's going to be a good friend is when, when they ask you thoughtful questions. And when they

Katie:

Yep.

Molly:

a willingness to learn, I I've talked about this many times and on my blog, um, I've even gone on at least one other podcasts to talk about diabetes and support and building that support network. and it's, it's just so important with your non T one D friends, people who have no familiarity with it, to just recognize like this is going to be someone. Worth having around because they're going to support me in the right ways they care. They want to learn. And it's really cool to be that person who can teach them. you know, I, I, I like being a diabetes advocate in that way and just having conversations with people, you know, I, I'm a people person and I like being able to share my story and hear other stories.

Katie:

Yeah. Yeah. definitely. I'll be on the lookout for the good, the good friends out there. Sarah has my daughter. Sarah has this one friend who I've noticed that every time they're together, the friend always ends up carrying her little kit around like her backpack that has all of her, you know, low snacks and kit and everything in it. And. I, you know, I need to ask Sarah because I've just have no, I mean, we're like really good friends with these people and we see them often and I've just noticed every time they're together, this girl ends up carrying Sarah's backpack for, and I really think she's just doing it out of the kindness of her heart. And I'm just like thinking to myself what a gift, you know, like what, uh, like that seems so simple, carrying a backpack around, but. It's just like what a, what a nice little break from one of the things that you have to keep up with as a, as a type one diabetic. So I just, you know, good friends are important.

Molly:

They are. And the smallest act like that can be so much like my, my boyfriend, when we first started dating, he stocked up on juice boxes and, you know, packets of reasons for me. what I saw that I was so incredibly touched because. I like that was the first time someone had really, you know, they did it without me asking, you know, so that was, that was really cool and special. And, you know, I think that's important for anyone with diabetes too, to have someone like that in there.

Katie:

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Good, good advice. Well, before we sign off, anything else you want to add? I feel like we've covered ways people can, can get in touch with the CDN. Like obviously I'm gonna put a link to the show notes, to the website and from there they can sign up for newsletters I'm assuming, and, and other things like that. Okay. But anything else you want to add? Okay, great. Good.

Molly:

I guess if there is anything else to add, I mean,

Katie:

Yeah.

Molly:

sort of like words of advice for T and D teens or any, any young person with T1 D I would just say, find your people and, and don't feel pressured to find them right away. Do it when you're

Katie:

Okay.

Molly:

Even though I have plenty of T and D peers who are like, my gosh, I loved going to diabetes camp. I'm so glad I did it. You know, there've been times where I have wondered, should I have done it when I was a kid? Like, is that a regret for me now? I don't regret it because I think I found support when I needed it. when I needed it most for sure too. so find your people on your own time. and remember that diabetes is a lot, is a lot, and it can feel really hard and limiting, but you don't have to do it all.

Katie:

Great advice. Yeah. Thank you. so much. I'm just so happy to know that there's services and groups of people out there, like, like the college diabetes network that will be able to kind of shepherd my child along as she transitions into that young adult period of her life. And it just really gives me a lot of peace of mind and I'm very grateful. So thank you.

Molly:

Thank you. I, you know, it's been a pleasure speaking with you today and I can't wait to hear some more sugar mamas episodes. I was listening to some earlier, so,

Katie:

Yeah.

Molly:

love what you're doing. I, you know, parents and caregivers do not get enough credit. I say all the time, I don't know how my mom managed to take care of her own diabetes. Plus mine growing up. so she's a superhero in my eyes, along with my dad. Like they, I I'm really lucky Of them were so involved, but huge shout out to all parents and caregivers, anyone who loves the type one, you guys are awesome.

Katie:

No. Thank you. Thank you. We, uh, yeah, I actually think about that often. Like when, you know, when I'm having just like a crazy busy day and I'm like, I can't even keep up with like the laundry or the dishes and I'm thinking to myself, like, I can't imagine having type one right now. Like, you didn't need to have to keep up with that too. Kudos to your mom for sure.

Molly:

Yeah, definitely.

Katie:

All right. Well, Thank you. so much, Molly. I've really loved having you on thank you for your time and for being willing to come on and chat with me.

Molly:

Thank you. This is wonderful.

Katie:

you're very welcome. Bye. That's it for our episode today, be sure to check out the show notes, to find all the links that will take you to the college diabetes network on the web. And of course on social media have a fabulous week. My friends, and as always stay calm and bolus on by.

Molly Johannes Profile Photo

Molly Johannes

Community Engagement Manager

Molly Johannes is the Community Engagement Manager for CDN. She earned her English degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and joined the CDN team after spending several years working as an Editor in the financial technology industry. She likes baking, knitting, nerding out on all aspects of pop culture, spending time with family and friends, snuggling with her Shetland Sheepdog Violet, and finding new fitness routines to try. In her spare time, she manages a blog about daily life with T1D called Hugging the Cactus and enjoys making connections with other people with diabetes around the world.

Age diagnosed: 4