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Alumni and Friends Making an Impact

Learning Through Service

Jenna Abdelhamed and Ramya Wilson spent the week before Christmas break in Panama through UD’s medical and dental chapters of Global Brigades, tending to those in dire need of medical care. This life-changing experience was enabled by the Multi-Ethnic Education and Engagement Center, supported in part by gifts made during last spring’s One Day, One Dayton, UD’s annual day of giving.  

For Abdelhamed, a junior studying pre-medicine, immersing herself in a region lacking adequate access to health care allowed her to understand the importance of routine checkups better. The trip also allowed her to spend time in a culturally diverse environment, which highlighted the value of focusing on similarities instead of differences to build strong connections and maximize the impact of service. 

“Many patients we saw in consultation had chronic diseases and had run out of medication months ago or were taking the wrong medication to begin with. Witnessing these undeniable consequences of health disparities has strengthened my passion for mitigating them,” said Abdelhamed.

Sharing similar sentiments about this opportunity, Wilson, a senior studying medicinal and pharmaceutical chemistry, reflected upon the challenges and rewards of being immersed in an unfamiliar linguistic and cultural environment while practicing her knowledge and skills.

“It takes an immense amount of courage to go to a place that is unfamiliar in every way and attempt to interact in a language that is not native to you. This trip provided me with the perfect space to make mistakes and truly grow from them. Having gone through the experience, I have a better appreciation for anyone who does that,” said Wilson. 

“It was the first time that several patients I met had been seen by a provider of both medical and dental services,” said Wilson. “For those needing immediate medical treatment, it might require an entire day trip to get to medical facilities, not including the time it takes to be seen. That was humbling to witness.”

According to Merida Allen, associate dean of students and executive director of the Multi-Ethnic Education and Engagement Center, the benefits of the MEC Fund go beyond study abroad programs.

“We have always supported individual students, but in the last five years, we have also tried to support student organizations attending conferences and other professional, personal or even social development opportunities nationally and internationally. The MEC Fund has been critical in helping us to scale up these opportunities,” said Allen.

One of the student organizations that recently benefitted from MEC funding is the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers. Students associated with the organization attended the SASE Connect 23 National Convention and STEM Career Fair in Atlanta last October.

“This semester, we have been able to support six different organizations going to associated conferences that relate to the core mission of their organization. Students come back from these experiences having secured a job, an internship or a co-op, or they have a stronger sense of their own identity because they were able to immerse themselves in rich cultural experiences. All of this is possible because of the MEC Fund,” said Allen. 

Abdelhamed feels that without the financial support from UD donors through the MEC Fund, she could not have gone on her Medical Brigades trip. “It inspires me to work harder to become a physician and continue to impact individuals’ lives, and return on similar trips.” Wilson echoes the sentiment. “Thanks to the support from the MEC Fund, I was able to let the Flyer legacy of community and servant leadership shine on the people in Panama.”

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