June Noronha has turned many obstacles she has faced into a rich and fulfilling life. She has never let anything stop her, and gathered strength from the challenges she endured to contribute to her new home. Born in Kenya, Ms. Noronha’s parents emigrated from India as it became independent. One day while walking in Nairobi, June was dared to go into the U.S. information office. She was handed a list of American universities to which she could apply and filled out applications to fulfill her dare. To the surprise of her parents, she began receiving admissions documents in their mailbox. With little information and much hope, it was decided that June would attend Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Moving to a new country provided a unique challenge for Ms. Noronha: she identified as Kenyan, but her peers expected her to be Indian. She studied Indian history and culture in order to appease these expectations. Ironically, her struggle continued when Kenya in its independence from Great Britain, revoked her right to return. With no citizenship, Ms. Noronha was to be deported to an internment camp in Britain. She reached out to a former Macalester professor—Sen. Hubert Humphrey—who sponsored a private Senate bill granting her a pathway to U.S. citizenship.
Since then, Ms. Noronha was spent her life working on internationalism and human rights issues. She has won numerous national and regional awards for this work, including Macalester’s distinguished citizen award, and named one of 100 most influential women by St. Catherine University. She works for the Bush Foundation as a senior manager and resides in St. Paul, Minnesota.