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.

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