Spotlight Iowa City: An open, humanitarian heart


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From responding to flood- and tornado-relief efforts to making a sick child’s day just a bit brighter, Meghan Hammen seemingly never ceases to help someone in need.

For several years, the UI alumna, 22, has had the mindset of a philanthropist, and it reflects positively not only on her but also on the numerous people who have been the recipients of her good deeds.

Hammen’s passion for helping others began when she was in eighth grade. Initially aspiring to become a veterinarian, she quickly changed directions when her best friend’s brother died from a rare form of cancer. This, she said, had a huge effect on her decision to go into health care. She came to the UI to pursue that goal, majoring in nursing and getting a minor in therapeutic recreation.

“I really enjoy working with hospitalized patients, through child life and nursing, promoting their recovery and seeing the impact you can have on their lives is incredible,” she said.

Most recently, she received the Iowa Character Award for being a “citizen of character” in October 2009. The “Character Counts! In Iowa” organization prides itself on the betterment of life in Iowa by “promoting civility through character development,” according to its website. Upon hearing she won, Hammen was understandably excited.

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“I didn’t know much about it when Sue Licher … nominated me,” she said. “I later learned what I was being evaluated on and how prestigious the award truly is. I feel very honored that Sue, and the judges reviewing nominees, found my simple acts of kindness to be deserving of such an award.”

Licher, a family friend and former assistant to the dean at the College of Nursing, has known Hammen for more than eight years, and she was able to go into great detail, explaining just how much Hammen deserved the award. The process of nominating Hammen began when she heard a commercial for the award on the radio, which made her instantly think of the Washington, Iowa, native.

Hammen’s father, Duane Hammen, was also previously unaware of the award, and he said he is proud of all his daughter has accomplished through her “strong work ethic.” Her enthusiasm for good deeds has rubbed off on her father, causing him to increase his own financial and time commitments to charity and volunteering.

Meghan Hammen’s young adulthood is packed with all of her charitable works. She has been a participant in Dance Marathon since her high-school days, and last year, she was the hospital chairwoman for the event. This gave her the opportunity to be a full-time volunteer at UI Hospitals and Clinics, visiting the Pediatric Inpatient Unit regularly. Event planning and gift giving were all part of her efforts to bring joy to children under such unfortunate circumstances.

Other activities include her participation at the Children’s Miracle Network Telethon and Relay for Life for several years. The list goes on to include involvement with organizations such as YMCA, 4-H, Habitat for Humanity, the Ronald McDonald House, and many more. Hammen was also volunteered in Parkersburg tornado relief efforts and sandbagged during the 2008 flood in Iowa City.

“From one situation to the next and one activity to the next during every day, Meghan is caring for others and giving of herself,” Licher said. “She not only cares about others, she acts on it.”

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