Nicole Granacki

College Relations Manager, Customized Programming
IES Abroad

Nicole Granacki is a College Relations Manager on the Customized & Faculty-Led Programs Team. In this role, Nicole works with schools to develop and support unique, faculty-led programs to all of our IES Abroad Centers. 

Before joining IES, Nicole spent years developing and supporting international programs for educational institutions and non-profits such as National Geographic, Harvard University, and Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund. She has developed programs on all seven continents and has traveled to over 55 countries. She also worked at Napier University in Edinburgh, Scotland on an EU project to increase capacity of online masters programs. 

Her passion for education as a powerful vehicle for social change has shaped her career in this field. Prior to working in international education, she was a community organizer for a large, international environmental organization, and worked on a number of high profile political campaigns. 

Nicole earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin in Religious Studies and Africa Studies, and a Master of Science degree from the University of Edinburgh in Anthropology. As an undergrad, Nicole participated in faculty-led study abroad programs to China, Costa Rica, and Argentina. After graduation, she direct enrolled in the Institute of Kiswahili and Foreign Languages in Tanzania. 

In her spare time, Nicole enjoys mentoring students through Chicago Scholars, watching the Cubs, and dreaming of her next visit to Africa.

Read below to find out a bit more about Nicole:

Where have you studied or lived abroad?

Yes! I lived in Edinburgh, Scotland for a little over two years. I moved there for a master's program at the University of Edinburgh, and stayed after graduation to work on a project at Napier University. I was fortunate enough to go on three faculty-led study abroad programs as an undergraduate - I spent one month in Beijing, one month in Costa Rica, and 1 week in Cordoba, Argentina. Between my undergraduate and post-graduate studies, I direct enrolled in the Institute of Kiswahili and Foreign Languages in Zanzibar, Tanzania for three months, where I studied Swahili and lived in a homestay.

What is your favorite place you've traveled and why?

It's hard to pick just one! Scotland and Tanzania both have a special place in my heart, and give me an ache in the pit of my stomach whenever I think about them. However, recently, my husband and I had the opportunity to visit the Kingdom of Bhutan, and it has to be one of the most unique places on the planet. Hiking in the Himalayas to Buddhist temples, debating the theory of Gross National Happiness, and eating chili cheese is something that we will never forget.

What is the one item you can't travel without?

I don't need much - just my passport and a credit card.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

For the last eight years, I have been heavily involved in Chicago Scholars, an organization that supports academically ambitious, first generation college students from under-resourced communities in Chicago. Chicago Scholars is a seven year program that envisions a Chicago with diverse leaders from every neighborhood. I volunteer as a mentor, and was a co-founder of the Associate Board, which now has 50 members dedicated to supporting the Chicago Scholars mission. 

Best piece of advice you've ever received?

It's not advice per se, but the words that echo through my mind most often are from the late, great Aretha Franklin: "They say that it's a man's world, but you can't prove that by me."

Tell us one thing people probably don't know about you.

My husband is from Kerala, India, so we travel there every year to visit his family. We just had a baby girl last year, so will be bringing her to Kerala for the first time this winter.

Homestay mom and I in Zanzibar, Tanzania.