A Note from Exec- Riley Jenkins, Freshman Liaison
The first year at UGA is definitely overwhelming in many ways. As a freshman, I speak from experience by saying the first semester is like a whirlwind. There are so many things to be involved in, classes to take, professors to meet, and things to experience in Athens. It can be quite a challenge staying organized and not letting opportunities pass you by all while staying on top of classes and learning to live on your own. One of the most important things I have learned this year is to be more flexible. I have learned that it is okay to change plans, and I have several times. I feel that many students, like myself, have trouble accepting anything less than perfection or that plans must be adjusted sometimes, but freshman year is a great time to learn to do just that.
With that being said, I have involved myself in organizations, classes, and programs that I am passionate about. For example, in the fall, I enrolled in an FYOS class that I knew I would enjoy: Communicating with People with Disabilities taught by Dr. Kevin McCully. Through this class, I met people with a wide range of disabilities and learned many things while forming relationships with the guests, my classmates, and Dr. McCully, whom I still keep in touch with. I have always been passionate about disability advocacy, as I learned to be an advocate for myself at 11 years old when I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. Being my own advocate at such a young age taught me valuable leadership skills and gave me an insurmountable drive.
As a Freshman Liaison for Dawgs for Diabetes, I gain valuable experience by spreading awareness about Type 1 Diabetes, connecting with students at UGA and beyond, and addressing our members during our meetings. I work closely with the executive board to create, implement, and improve programs for students on campus and the community. I enjoy being able to deliver news about our exciting achievements and upcoming events while gaining public speaking experience. As an organization, we pride ourselves on being organized and efficient. This is largely due to the hard work of our executive members. I hope to help continue this trend throughout my years here at UGA to allow Dawgs for Diabetes to continue to grow.
Dawgs for Diabetes is an outstanding club that seeks to make college just a little bit easier for students with Diabetes, like myself, by providing a strong community that truly cares about the wellbeing of all students. Not only do we provide resources for current students, but our club also hosted our first tour this past fall, The Campus Tour: A Diabetes Perspective, for prospective students. The tour was even more of a success than we had imagined. As a Freshman Liaison, I had the pleasure of being a speaker and joining one of the discussion panels for this event. Besides speaking on a panel, I also assisted in planning the event while at the same time preparing for the JDRF Walk that same weekend. I know just how scary it can be for both students and parents to begin the college journey, but it is even scarier to do so with a chronic disease or disability. That is why I enjoy being a leader in Dawgs for Diabetes so much; it has given me a home away from home.
Through Dawgs for Diabetes, I have also had many opportunities to give back to the community. We served as volunteers at the annual JDRF, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s, Walk for the Cure at Sandy Creek Park in the fall, hosted the campus tour, started a mentor program, and lead dorm programs to spread awareness about Type 1 Diabetes, among many other things. One of my favorite Dawgs for Diabetes events was a freshman dorm program that I helped lead with our president. We lead an interactive program explaining Diabetes and the myths associated with it and also addressed many questions. Most of the students did not know about Type 1 Diabetes, so it made me feel good to know that I was able to make a positive impact on fellow students. I hope to continue to be involved in the dorm programs, as spreading awareness about our disease is very near and dear to me.
Besides Dawgs for Diabetes, I am also involved with Camp for a Cause, an organization with ties to Camp Twin lakes, a camp for children with disabilities and chronic conditions, and the Pre-dental Society at UGA. In my spare time, I like to volunteer, paint, attend sporting events, spend time with family and friends, explore new restaurants, and check out the latest movies.
In my professional career, I hope to continue to be a strong leader in my community. I am a biological sciences and nutrition science student with hopes to attend dental school after graduation. Because of my Diabetes, I recognize just how precious health really is, and I want to give back to my community by serving them as a health professional and teaching others the importance of health in its entirety.
Riley is studying biological sciences and nutrition science, Class of 2018. She plans on attending Dental School after she graduates undergrad. Follow Riley on Instagram and twitter @stonewalljenkins
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