June Noronha '70

2005 Distinguished Citizen Award

View all Distinguished Citizen Award recipients

June Noronha is a former international student who personifies a commitment to international education. A daughter of Indian immigrants to Africa, she grew up in Nairobi, Kenya. Since 1978 she has worked at The College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, where she is associate dean for multicultural education. This year, the college named her to the Centennial 100 — hundred people whose contributions have most influenced the institution in the past century.

For more than 25 years, she has been active in NAFSA: Association of International Educators, the largest organization of international educators in the world. Well known for her leadership on diversity and communicating across cultural barriers, she was elected president of NAFSA for 2001–02. In that role she was an outspoken leader for fair and just treatment of international students and scholars studying in the U.S. in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. In 2002, the membership of NAFSA paid her "grateful tribute for exceptional service in exceptional times...in recognition of extraordinary service to international education and exchange."

Noronha believes international educational exchange is more important than ever. "In a world that is increasingly unpredictable and violent," she says, "we have this evidence among our own students—successive generations of international leaders who left their native countries to study abroad and ended up speaking the language of, and breaking bread with, strangers and former foes, building alliances of friendship for a less fractured world. In a small way, I represent one of those students myself. Now more than ever, we need to speak each other’s languages, understand each other’s religious and cultural traditions, walk in each other’s fields, eat in each other’s homes, play with each other’s children, in our own nation and with other nations."