Paula Hirschoff ’66

2014 Charles J. Turck Global Citizen Award

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Paula Hirschoff came to Macalester in 1962 determined to expand her world, and she succeeded. While at Macalester, she took part in both an exchange program and in the SWAP program that took her to Paris for the summer. “Those opportunities were life changing and crucial in shaping who I became,” says Hirschoff.

Three years after graduating from Macalester, she was serving in the Peace Corps in Kenya as headmistress and teacher for a girls’ boarding school. “I was so fortunate to have been there at a time when Africa was emerging and so accessible,” she says. Those two years plus subsequent travels throughout the continent helped her compose a life centered on Africa.

In later years, Hirschoff has worked as an editor for Africa Report magazine, as a writer and editor for USAID projects, and as a consultant for the Africa Resources Trust. She has returned to Africa many times, including another two-year stint with the Peace Corps, this time in Senegal.

Hirschoff went back to school at midlife, earning a master’s degree in cultural anthropology with a focus on Africa. She has been a docent at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art since 1989, immersed in African art and culture.

Hirschoff also volunteers with the Friends of Kenya, the Global Fund for Women, and the Cape Verde Jewish Heritage Trust. Then there’s the small fund she and her husband set up to give grants to Peace Corps projects in the area of Senegal where they once worked, plus ongoing support for students in Kenya and Senegal.

“Paula Hirschoff is a true citizen of the world,” wrote her Macalester classmate friend Darlene Kunze '66. Hirschoff herself put it this way, “I never wanted an easy life. I wanted challenges. Perhaps that’s why I identify with the challenges in Africa; and I admire the beauty, courage and wisdom of Africans in facing them.”