Type 1 Diabetes Conferences of Summer 2014

The month of June provided me with the opportunity to attend three Conferences for people with Type 1 Diabetes. These amazing experiences have left me radiating with motivation and inspiration to be my best self.


The First Conference:

The Student with Diabetes Leadership Conference brought me to the paradisiacal Tampa, Florida. I attended as part of my internship with Eastern Virginia Medical School later this summer. Students with Diabetes matched me to this internship and I am incredibly excited for the upcoming experience (Expect future posts on this). This was my second year attending the Leadership Conference and again this year it went far beyond my expectations.

Highlights from the Leadership Conference:

The Conference began with an opening dinner at a local restaurant, Ciccios. The food was amazing but the conversation was what made it so special to me. I spoke with many of the other National Interns and we were able to connect and express our excitement towards our future opportunities.

Dr. Donna Petersen, the Dean of Public Health from University of South Florida spoke about the true meaning of public health. She defined it as, “What we do together to create condition where people can be healthy”. She emphasized the impact of public health on everyday life and presented statistics that shocked me.

–          “Half of what contributes to population health is individual behaviors. Other contributions are environmental factors (1/5), genetics (1/5), and medical care (1/10)”.

–          “In the city of Detroit, 26 square miles of the inner city have no grocery stores”. As a whole food advocate this statistic is terrifying and really made me understand the need for public health actions in this country.

Dale Carnegie Training – Rick Gallegos (Aka Brick Legos) C.E.O. gave a training on Public Speaking. His speech was entertaining and provided some valuable advice on how to network and act in a professional setting.  He enlightened us on the fact that public speaking is the #1 fear in America (which I think is somewhat humorous). He gave us a copy of Dale Carnegie’s Golden book and 6 tips of his own to help us excel in life.

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6 Tips

  1. Tell yourself, “well of course, I can do that,” always.
  2. When meeting others, focus on names and the other people not yourself. Repeat their name!
  3. Ask questions, because leaders ask questions. (Examples: name, where they are from, length of time living there, work, travel, hobbies, family, goals, ideas).
  4. Listen effectively.
  5. Connect with others. Try to make connections with people by finding things in common.
  6. Swap good deeds – so it’s a win/win.

Martin Wood author of the blog Diabetically Speaking and the youngest Medical Library Directory in America (which I think is so cool) gave us the scoop on being successful in the world as a person with type 1 diabetes. As a person with type 1 himself, Martin keeps an amazing blog about his life that benefits others with type 1 (http://diabeticallyspeaking.com/). He spoke about the importance of building a parachute and having others help with your type 1 diabetes when necessary. He said that his greatest accomplishment was that, “I am here”, after all of his years with type 1 he is still living a great life. I thought this was beautiful. It really puts things in perspective of living a life with type 1 diabetes. I hope that one day my blog might be as amazing as his is.

Tom Boyer, government affairs director at Novo Nordisk, spoke about how an internship helped him to launch his career. His story was touching and inspiring. He gave tips on being professional early, staying connected with people you meet, reading the news every day, and putting your whole self into an experience. The work that he does in government affairs makes a huge impact on life with type 1 in the country.

Each of the speakers at the leadership conference were wonderful and I was able to learn something valuable from each of them. I cannot thank Nicole Johnson and her crew enough for providing such an amazing experience!

The Second Conference:

The Students with Diabetes National Conference Immediately followed the Leadership Conference. College Students and young adults from across the nation got together and spent the weekend connecting and learning. It was an experience that I felt so blessed to be a part of. To me the opportunity to share stories and learn from other people with type 1 is indescribable. The empathy and understanding from it leaves a warm feeling in my heart that cannot be replaced by anything else. For those without type 1 diabetes, or those who have type 1 and have never met another person with it, this may seem a bit extreme but, it truly is life changing.

The conference included many humorous and informative speeches by Jim turner, Mike Lawson, Ed Damiano, Scott Scolnick, Joe Solowiejczyk, David Joffe, Tye Manor, and Nicole Johnson. There was great food, Zumba classes, and even a Lual. I would recommend this experience to anyone! If you have the opportunity to attend definitely make it a priority!

The Third Conference:

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I attended the first Texas JDRF Type One Nation event in the center of the beautiful city Austin, Texas. It was a jam packed day of speakers and group conversations that again made me feel so supported and inspired. Justin, my boyfriend, attended with me and it was great for him to meet other type 1’s and learn about living with type 1 diabetes from an outside perspective. He now knows that all the crazy things I say when I am low are not necessarily unique to me. There were multiple talks going on during each hour that we could choose to attend. This was great because it allowed us to pick and choose topics that related most to our interest.

Dr. Insel began the conference with a talk on the progress of research in the field of type 1 diabetes. He explained the less until none approach of decreasing the burden of type 1 diabetes  until there is a cure.

We saw Joe Solowiejckzyk talk about living with a partner who has type 1 diabetes. His talk was humorous and raw. It was perfect! The countless amount of times that Justin nudged me during his speech made me realize how much he got out of it.

Kerri Sparling, author of the blog sixuntilme.com, spoke about the challenges of living as an adult with type 1. There were many ‘amen’ moments during her talk. She did an amazing job of sharing her story and opening up conversation to the listeners in the room. I also attended her second talk about communicating with your health care team. It was nice to know that I am not the only one that struggles with this.

Gary Scheiner spoke about managing glucose during exercise. This talk was priceless for me because I have struggled finding valid and practical information on this topic prior. My endocrinologist had only offered the advice of maybe exercising less and all of my other knowledge had come straight from Pubmed. I am looking forward to implementing some of the tips I gathered from his talk.

Nicole Johnson concluded the day with an incredibly inspiring speech about her life with type 1 diabetes and how she has not let it hold her back from anything she wanted. Every time Nicole gives a speech I seem to tear up. She is such an amazing role model and has dedicated so much of her time to make things better for people with type 1. It was great to see her and her daughter Ava again.

The conference was yet another success and I hope to be attending again next year.

Thanks for reading, Hannah

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