Nicole McNevin, a Wisconsin native, is currently living in Tokyo as she pursues her Master's degree at the prestigious International Christian University (ICU). As one of Rotary International's honored Peace Fellows, Nicole is not only receiving a fully-funded graduate education but also gaining hands-on experience advancing the Rotary mission of peace and conflict resolution. 

So how did this small-town girl land such a competitive scholarship? A combination of strong international experience, language skills, and encouragement from her local Rotary club. Nicole spent four years teaching English in rural Japan as part of the JET program, where she immersed herself in the culture and became fluent in Japanese. This piqued her interest in barriers that prevent youth in rural areas from studying abroad. When Rotarian Betsy Rozelle (Rotary Club of Neenah) learned about the Rotary Peace Fellowship, she immediately thought of Nicole and persistently encouraged her to apply. 
On December 9, 2023, Betsy Rozelle interviewed Nicole with the assistance of District 6270's Rotary Peace Fellowship Committee Chair Larry Myers (Rotary Club of Elmbrook). The recorded interview here provides many insights into the Rotary Peace Fellowship program in general and into Ms. McNevin's experiences specifically. 

Now at ICU, Nicole is conducting groundbreaking research on how to expand access to study abroad programs for Japanese youth in underserved areas. She is collaborating directly with local governments in rural prefectures to distribute surveys to students and identify trends in barriers they face. Nicole hopes her Master's thesis will lead to actionable recommendations for exchange sponsors like Rotary Youth Exchange to reach more students.  

In her scarce personal time, Nicole squeezes in speaking engagements at Rotary clubs across Japan. As one of the only Peace Fellows fluent in Japanese, Nicole is in high demand to discuss the program. She's making connections that she knows will last far beyond her studies. 

What's next for this promising peacebuilder? Nicole is keeping an open mind, but sees herself continuing to promote educational exchange in Japan and bridge cultures however she can – perhaps through nonprofit work, government programs, or corporations.

Nicole's story demonstrates the

tremendous opportunities available through Rotary for dedicated individuals to create lasting change. Reach out to your local Rotary or Rotaract Club to learn more and get involved today.

Endorsed by RI District 6270, Rotary Peace Fellow Nicole McNevin is in the first year of her Master in Peace Studies program at International Christian University in Tokyo, Japan. She is one of only 50 finalists who were offered fellowships in the 2023-2024 cycle to study at one of the five Rotary Peace Centers throughout the world.

Each year, Rotary awards up to 130 fully funded fellowships for dedicated leaders from around the world to study at one of our peace centers. Through academic training, practice, and global networking opportunities, the Rotary Peace Centers program develops the capacity of peace and development professionals to become effective catalysts for peace. The 2024 applications are being accepted Jan-May for the following academic year (2024 >> 2025/26) Learn more here.

Click the above video link or here to watch Nicole's full interview .