Ability advocate

Name: Nicole Palmer

Academic path: The recent U of M Morris (UMM) graduate designed a major with a concentration on disability issues and advocacy.

What drives her: Living with Marfan syndrome, a genetic disorder that affects the connective tissue, gave Palmer empathy for people with disabilities. It also led her to want to work on their behalf. “I really want to allow people the opportunity to learn from my experience. I also want to help make people’s journey more accessible,” she says.

Mentors matter: “Before I came to Morris, disability advocacy wasn’t really on my radar,” says Palmer, who credits her mentors at UMM with encouraging her to pursue her interest. Two years ago, she served on a task force to make education more accessible for students with disabilities. The opportunity helped her form connections with faculty and staff who had a passion for social justice.

Life goal: Palmer hopes to work for a non-profit or even create her own advocacy organization.

Why scholarship support matters: Palmer, who recently received the President’s Scholarly Excellence in Equity and Diversity (SEED) Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement, credits scholarship support for allowing her to take on such work. “I want to help the people I work with at the highest level possible, and philanthropy has allowed me to take a necessary step back to understand what they need and desire most,” she says.

Related stories

  • New citizen at a naturalization ceremony, holding an American flag
    The U of M's James H. Binger Center for New Americans brings new hope to immigrants and refugees.
  • Children watching a Raptor Center presentation
    At a U of M camp for kids who stutter, children learn to be confident in their communication skills.
  • Group of girls celebrating as they play a basketball game
    An M.B.A. student helps launch a line of culturally appropriate athletic wear.
  • Aaliyah Hodge
    Aaliyah Hodge is a pioneer in the new field of charter school oversight.