Revamped student association provides community for Middle Eastern and North African students

This semester, UCCS students Lana Khoshnaw, an exercise science major, and Aya Hassan, a biology major, brought back the MENA Student Association, which has been on hiatus due to a lack in student involvement and leadership.

MENA, which refers to the grouping of countries in the Middle Eastern and North African regions, provides a safe community for students that identify with these regions as well as student allies who want to show their support by attending events and promoting the club on campus.

Khoshnaw and Hassan are president and vice president respectively. They started MENA back up this fall in order to see their community better represented and celebrated on campus.

“Last semester, we had both noticed all of the multicultural events on campus,” Khoshnaw said. “There was La Fiesta, the APISU fusion event — and it’s great that we get to support these different multicultural groups on campus, but we were always like, what about us? What about our people?”

In order to bring student involvement with MENA back to the forefront, Khoshnaw and Hassan decided to reimagine the club and build new roots on campus.

Starting with the recent Club Fair, student involvement with MENA has reached a new high. “At Club Fair, we got about 10 to 12 people signed up,” Khoshnaw said. “And it wasn’t just people of the Middle Eastern, North African background that were interested, which is what we want to see.

“We want people to be able to come here and join our club and learn about what MENA has to offer and who we support.”

MENA has upcoming events in the works, including a potluck for current and incoming club members.

“We have been discussing with some of the other multicultural clubs,” Koshnaw said. “We’ve been talking about maybe doing a big potluck together, where we can bring all of the [cultural] groups together and really just let people know what kind of community we have to offer on campus.”

MENA also plans to collaborate with MOSAIC in order to bring more funding to the club, as well as a safe space to hold events on campus.

The club has had trouble finding an audience at UCCS in the past, but Khoshnaw and Hassan are hopeful that MENA will only grow as they continue to collaborate with other organizations on campus, and make the club an outlet for community-driven support and guidance.

“I think it’ll be a good year,” Khoshnaw said.

Khoshnaw wants students to know that the MENA social media account is a good source of information about what the club has to offer to students, and upcoming events will be posted there as well.

Open officer positions for the club include a secretary position and a club treasurer, who will assist with budgeting, catering and event planning. Students interested in these positions can reach out to Khoshnaw at [email protected].

More information about some of the other cultural clubs at UCCS can be located on the MOSAIC website.

Photo caption: Lana Khoshnaw is the president of the Middle Eastern North African Students Association. Photo courtesy of Lana Khoshnaw.