BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — Through her passion for human rights and dedication to peacebuilding, Zoe Hovde '24 was named the 2024 Technos International Prize winner as a senior at Illinois Wesleyan.

The award is presented annually, recognizing an IWU student who has excelled academically and has contributed to broadening international awareness and understanding.

Zoe Hovde holding a certificate with Interim Provost and Dean of the Faculty Abbie Kerr
Interim Provost and Dean of the Faculty Abbie Kerr, right, presents the 2024 Technos International Prize to Zoe Hovde '24, left.

Hovde studied international and global studies and political science and was active in several student groups dedicated to human rights and global equality, such as Amnesty International, where she served as president.

One of her most impactful experiences as a student, said Hovde, came while interning in Hiroshima, Japan, through the Freeman Asia Program in the summer of 2023. She completed an internship at the World Friendship Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting peace and commemorating the devastating impact of the atomic bomb dropped on the city in 1945. 

During the internship, Hovde worked alongside survivors of the blast (known in Japanese as Hibakusha) and their families.

“I learned more about the atomic bomb and its impact through the eyes of survivors. Listening to the testimonies of Hibakusha was incredible and something I will never take for granted,” she said.

Hovde said the group also taught her about Japanese history, religions, traditions, cuisine, language and other important aspects of the culture. 

“I loved working with this community because they all had similar passions to my own — such as peacebuilding and human rights,” said Hovde. 

During middle school and high school, Hovde said she was dedicated to giving back to her small farming community of Sidney, Illinois, through community service. 

“I felt a great deal of sympathy for people in my community struggling with access to food, clean water and health care because I had grown up with similar struggles. My interest in these issues led me to gain interest in other struggles happening around the world,” she said.

Since then, she has followed this passion and her interest in global engagement has grown. 

“During my time at Illinois Wesleyan, I was constantly busy with balancing classes, RSOs, and work, yet the struggle to balance these things was worth it. My hard work and passions feel highly recognized after receiving this award,” she said. 

Since graduating, Hovde plans to work for a year before returning to school to receive a master’s degree in international affairs. She hopes to someday work for a non-governmental organization to “address social issues apparent in the world today.” Hovde also aspires to learn about other cultures and make a return trip to Hiroshima. 

The Technos International Prize is presented by the Tanaka Ikueikai Educational Trust in Japan. The Trust was founded by Kenji Tanaka, who created it in the spirit of improving international relations all around the world. The award promotes those ideals and recognizes IWU students who, through their work and actions, strive to ensure an atmosphere of global understanding.