Nicole Palasz ’96

2010 Young Alumni Award

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Growing up in Milwaukee, Nicole Palasz had an innate interest in international affairs, but few international opportunities. Now, as K–16 Outreach Coordinator for the Institute of World Affairs in the Center for International Education at the University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee, she works with educators and students to bring awareness of world affairs and human rights to the community she calls home.

A French and international studies major at Macalester, Palasz earned a master's degree in human rights and conflict resolution at Tufts University in 2002. Then, while pursuing a master's in public policy at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey Institute, she volunteered with the Center for Victims of Torture. The center subsequently hired Palasz to join a critical new project, New Tactics in Human Rights.

As project associate, she coordinated global research and documentation of innovative tactics for addressing human rights issues. "Human rights defenders often work in isolated areas and cannot get to conferences to learn from each other," says Palasz. "We wanted to find the approaches that worked and share them with other human rights groups." In this role, Palasz developed a series of online and written resources that are used by promoters of human rights in countries around the world.

Palasz feels a deep gratitude to Macalester for the support and encouragement she experienced in turning her interest in global affairs and human rights into action.

"Nicole was among the first students to convince me that the domestic and the international were intimately linked," wrote international studies professor David Chioni Moore. "She has been living out that insight ever since."