MTV’s college network, mtvU, has named Kaci Hickox, the Maine nurse who fought quarantines after returning from treating Ebola patients in Africa, its Woman of the Year.

The channel, which broadcasts on cable and to more than 750 campuses nationwide, announced its selections for Woman and Man of the Year on Tuesday.

Comedian John Oliver, a former correspondent for “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” whose own show premiered on HBO this year, received the Man of the Year honor.

Last year’s recipients of the awards, which recognize leaders in music, activism, pop culture and politics, were Pope Francis and singer-songwriter Lorde.

“Kaci Hickox and John Oliver are two voices that stand as an example of strength for today’s college students. They’re each fighting for important issues and using reason as their weapon,” Stephen Friedman, president of MTV, said in a news release. “Kaci is emblematic of so many young civil servants around the world committed to helping others while remaining true to themselves.”

Hickox was unaware of the award before being contacted by a Portland Press Herald reporter Tuesday.


“That’s very nice,” she said, admitting she was caught off guard. But as she proved during her ordeal in Fort Kent, where she was swarmed by media after defying a state-ordered quarantine, Hickox was quick to come up with an articulate response.

“I am afraid that I know a lot more people who deserve such honors more than I do, but I just hope that this entire situation will continue the discussion of how we can best respond to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa,” she said.

A volunteer for Doctors without Borders, Hickox returned from treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone on Oct. 24, when she landed in the Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey. After registering a fever, she was placed in an isolation tent and given a blood test for Ebola, which came back negative.

After three days, she was allowed to return to her home in Fort Kent, where her boyfriend, Ted Wilbur, was in the nursing program at the University of Maine campus. But her trials didn’t end there.

Maine officials then tried to force Hickox not to leave her home until 21 days – the disease’s incubation period – had passed since her last interaction with an Ebola patient.

After fighting the order, Hickox and the state reached a settlement that she would submit to daily monitoring of her health until the incubation period was over on Nov. 10.


Since then, she and Wilbur have moved to Yarmouth. He plans to continue his nursing studies at the University of Southern Maine next semester, while she’s “doing some networking and some soul-searching,” she said Tuesday.

Hickox said she and Wilbur happen to be big fans of co-honoree Oliver and often catch his show, “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.”

“Not only is he a fantastic comedian, he’s an intelligent man as well,” she said, noting his unique ability to frame issues and offer a new perspective.

“I would love to meet him someday,” she said.

A video segment on mtvU’s “Woman and Man of the Year” will air at 4 p.m. Tuesday on the network, which broadcasts on Maine college campuses, including the University of Maine Orono, University of Southern Maine, University of New England and Bowdoin College.

Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: lesliebridgers

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