Nicole Paprocki, University of Loyola at Chicago, Class of 2011
One hardly knows where to start talking about Nicole Paprocki's accomplishments, so why not Bangladesh? That's where she traveled in the summer of 2009, as the winner of the Americans for UNFPA Student Award, to learn about acid violence against women and visit United Nations programs for women's empowerment. "I was overcome by the sisterhood I felt among these young women who walked with me through their homes, played with my hair, and let me hold their babies," she wrote in a blog post on Marie Claire's website. "I vowed never to forget these women: their laughter and their warmth."
That trip-also a happy encounter with such delicacies as chai tea and fresh mango-continued the work in which Nicole has long been engaged locally, as a women's rights advocate for the Chicago Women's Health Clinic, Amnesty International, Planned Parenthood, and for the Gannon Scholars Leadership Program at Loyola University, from which she expects to graduate in 2011 with a double major in sociology and pre-med biology in the Interdisciplinary Honors Program. These illustrious beginnings, she believes, would not have been possible without the support of Chicago Scholars Foundation. "From firsthand experience, I know it is necessary and that it works," she says, which is why she has invested herself in the organization "as a peer mentor, a class officer, and a future board member."
Nicole has been inspired by strong examples in her family, from her grandparents, who emigrated from Poland in the 1920s, down to her mother, who has refused to let a bout with multiple sclerosis interfere with leading a normal life. The latter experience stoked her interest in health care, leading her to focus on the international health care gap as it affects women in developing countries. "I was and continue to be involved in social justice issues," she says. "Only recently did I realize that health care-a career field I was very interested in as a result of growing up with sick grandparents and mother-was, in fact, intricately in need of social justice itself."
Her aim at present is to earn an MD/MPH in women's health, with which she hopes to work with an international organization like the UN or the World Health Organization to develop accessible health care policy, reduce maternal mortality, and prevent violence against women everywhere. Such expansive goals are well suited to a career in which Nicole will no doubt mobilize her determination and inspiration to realize change around the world. "According to the Myers-Briggs exam, I have the rarest personality type," she says, tellingly enough. "INFJ-which is the same as Mother Teresa."