by Divine Mbabazi | IANR Media
Lincoln, Neb. —Raised in Omaha, Nebraska, Brytany Gama is a senior Agricultural Education-Leadership major. During her time at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, she helped establish the UNL Chapter of Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences (MANRRS) to create a space that promotes diversity and inclusion for underrepresented students on campus. She has also served as a National Ambassador for MANRRS. Currently serving as Region IV Graduate Student Vice President for 2023-2024, she was recently elected as a MANRRS National Officer during the organization's 2023 National Conference. Upon graduation in May, she plans to pursue a Master's of Applied Science.
How did you get involved with MANRRS, and what drew you to the organization?
I joined MANRRS during talks to re-establish the chapter. At that time, I struggled with impostor syndrome and questioned if I belonged in the College of Agriculture. COVID halted our plans, and when we returned, I had switched majors to Political Science. Despite no longer being a CASNR student, I stayed with MANRRS because I wanted to create a community for peers with similar experiences and provide opportunities for growth, professional development, and networking. After serving as President for a year, I was nominated again but opted to step back and focus on recruitment as a chair to attract new members and expand the organization.
Can you tell us a little bit about your experience at the national MANRRS Conference in Atlanta?
I attended the MANRRS Conference in April, and I was there the whole week. As it was my first time attending the MANRRS conference, I had a pretty unique experience. For the most part, I was doing most of the behind-the-scenes work such as setting up and ensuring that everything was running smoothly for the people in attendance and coordinating to ensure that keynote speakers were taken care of.
What will your responsibilities entail as a National Officer, and how do you see MANRRS- both in your appointed region and the UNL chapter- benefiting from your new appointment?
As a National Officer, I will be responsible for connecting with the chapters within my region to see how they’re doing and how I can support them. Also, we have a regional cluster, so I’ll get to plan and coordinate that. I decided to run because I’ve noticed that national MANRRS wants an increase in the Hispanic population involvement, and as a Hispanic woman, that is something I am passionate about. Serving as a National officer will give me a new platform to show members that there are opportunities to grow within the organization and I am ecstatic to take on that mentorship role as I move forward.
In what ways do you think MANRRS is important for underrepresented groups in agriculture and natural resources-related sciences?
Reflecting on my personal experience, MANRRS allowed me to connect with peers that I did not necessarily see in my classes. UNL is a predominantly white institution, which makes it easy for impostor syndrome to grow, especially when you don’t see peers or mentors who look like you. I’ve learned firsthand that representation matters to students, and MANRRS has been that connection point for us to get that representation we’re constantly looking for.
Recently, you organized a conference for underrepresented high schoolers. What inspired you to plan the event and what did you hope to accomplish?
Cultivando Caminos aimed to connect underrepresented students with CASNR faculty/staff, encouraging them to envision agriculture careers. I wanted to create an impactful event for high school students who lack such opportunities and make it an annual event.
What did the students gain from the conference and how was its success measured?
Students had the freedom to select from several workshops on topics like college funding, imposter syndrome, and storytelling. The focus was on quality rather than quantity. After the event, feedback revealed that students appreciated the representation and personalized experience.
Are there any campus events/initiatives coming up?
I'm starting a Junior MANRRS Chapter for high school students. Although Lincoln Northeast is already in the works, I hope to encourage discussions in other schools across the state. As a national officer, I'll also be providing support to graduate students.