As president of Medical students United with Neighbors across America, Hannah Ray is helping further their mission of providing culturally-specific foods to immigrant and refugee families around her hometown of Lincoln.
For Ray, involvement with MUNA has offered a fresh perspective on her hometown and her future as a medical professional.
“Coming into college, I didn’t realize that Nebraska was one of the biggest resettlement hubs for refugees per capita or that Lincoln has such a big refugee population,” Ray, a senior biological sciences major, said. “Being from Lincoln, I’m really passionate about helping people here.”
Ray’s first exposure to MUNA came by accident, wandering into a meeting her freshman year thinking it was a different club. It quickly became clear, however, that Ray was exactly where she needed to be.
“I just really fell in love with their mission,” she recalled. “It made me extremely passionate toward learning about human rights and helped lay out the rest of my college career.”
Inspired by a professor who spoke to MUNA, Ray picked up a minor in human rights and humanitarian affairs alongside her pre-health track. She’s since interned for Lutheran Family Services and worked with Lincoln Literacy, a local nonprofit that helps immigrants and refugees with language and literacy skills, to further make a difference in the communities she’s passionate about serving.
“MUNA works with Lincoln Family Services to find immigrant and resettled families who need food,” Ray said. “We get donations year-round from students, fundraisers and other organizations on campus to meet their needs.”
Working with a Family Service case manager to identify the right foods to purchase, MUNA students use their donations to purchase a list of foods that match families’ specific cultures.
Ray plans to integrate this calling for working with underrepresented communities into her future medical practice, merging her career goals with her determination to make a difference.
“Getting more experience working with the refugee community has been a huge influence,” she said. “Hopefully, as a future physician, I’ll be able to utilize all these skills to keep helping refugee populations.”
Now in her fouth year with MUNA, Ray’s favorite part is getting her fellow Huskers on board with their mission.
“Being able to introduce my peers to MUNA and show them ways they can make a difference for refugees has been so great and, honestly, really fun,” Ray shared, adding that they’re always looking for new members. “It takes a communitywide effort to help these families.”