She's a young nurse epidemiologist with a master's degree in public health and nursing from Johns Hopkins University.
She received a two-year postgraduate fellowship in applied epidemiology with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and worked with the Epidemic Intelligence Service, the equivalent of the CIA of public health.
She has a diploma in Tropical Nursing from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
She worked in Indonesia with the International Medical Corps after the 2004 tsunami hit that country.
She joined Doctors Without Borders and spent two years in Myanmar in Southeast Asia where she ran three primary health care clinics. She also fought the 2010 measles outbreak in Nigeria, and she was part of a Doctors Without Borders team that discovered that children in a Nigerian village were dying from lead poisoning due to toxic gold mining practices.
Most recently she was in Sierra Leone fighting the Ebola virus.
Her passion has always been helping the most vulnerable people on the planet, and to this end nursing has been her chosen means.
Her name is Kaci Hickox and she's the nurse, who upon her return from Sierra Leone last Friday was whisked by the authorities from he Newark airport and forced into a quarantine tent in a New Jersey hospital under that state's new law that anyone entering New Jersey who has been in contact with Ebola patients has to be kept in isolation for 21 days. According to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie Kaci Hickox had to be kept in this tent - dressed in hospital scrubs, with only a bed, table, chair and port-a-potty, no shower, no television, radio, books, exercise or any other kind of diversion except her phone - for three weeks because there existed the threat that she might spread the Ebola virus among the population.
Even though Ebola can only be spread by direct contact with the bodily fluids of a infected person who is very sick with Ebola symptoms.
And even though Kaci not only had no Ebola symptoms, but tested negative for Ebola, twice.
And so although he had no scientific evidence on his side, Governor Christie stood firm in his resolve to protect the nation by keeping Kaci in the quarantine tent. Until two days later when she threatened legal action, at which point he suddenly decided she was no longer a health threat and let her go home.
Which begs the question: If Governor Christie really believed Kaci Hickox could spread Ebola, why would he have let her out of quarantine, whether she threatened to sue of not?
The fact is that Governor Christie of New Jersey, along with Governor Cuomo of New York and all those other governors who are talking about enforcing Ebola quarantines that go against every bit of scientific evidence of how the disease is spread, are only catering to the public's fear to gain political points. Instead of spreading education and calm and acting like leaders they're spreading alarm and misinformation and discord to make themselves look like leaders.
And worst of all, they're spreading the perception that American health-care workers like Kaci Hickox who are fighting the Ebola epidemic and saving lives in West Africa deserve to be not admired and respected, but criticized and treated like social pariahs when they return home.
And now Kaci is back at her home in Fort Kent, Maine, where she's been self-monitoring for symptoms and taking her temperature twice a day, which is in line with the Center for Disease Control and Doctors without Borders protocol for health care workers who've cared for Ebola patients. She feels fine.
And though she's not contagious and cannot be unless she's sick and symptomatic, Kaci's been told by Maine state officials that she cannot leave her home; the state is now in the process of filing a court order to require her to abide by a 21-day quarantine. The Governor of Maine, Paul LePage, is behind this action and has sent the Maine State Police to stand guard in front of her house to keep her from leaving.
Which also begs the question: If Kaci Hickox tries to leave her house, does Governor LePage require that the police officers come in physical contact with this person whom he's claimed has the potential to spread the Ebola virus?
But Kaci Hickox says she's though playing their political games. She says that today she's going to reclaim her rights and her freedom to go where she pleases. She says that today she's leaving her house and if the state authorities try to stop her she'll take them to court.
To which I say, "You go, brave girl!"
Because in fact, Kaci Hickox isn't just fighting for her rights.
She's fighting against ignorance. She's fighting against disregard for science and knowledge.
She's fighting for other health care workers on the front lines in West Africa who risk being victimized by scientific ignorance and politics when they return home.
She's fighting for the people of West Africa who will suffer if American health care workers drop out of the fight against the Ebola epidemic because they don't want to deal with stigmatization and a politically-motivated quarantine when they return home.
But mostly Kaci Hickox is fighting to keep our country safe from the scourge of Ebola, which can ultimately only be kept out of our country only if it's wiped out at its source in West Africa.
But, again, who'll want to go to West Africa to fight Ebola knowing how they'll be treated when they return home?
Do it, Kaci, challenge them and be strong. I'm cheering you on!
1. "Healing Touch, Unbranded Stories", University of Texas Arlington
2. "Kaci Hickox: five fast facts you need to know", Heavy , October 27, 2014
3. "Nurse says she plans to end voluntary quarantine", AP, October 29, 2014
4. "State of Maine, Nurse Who Went To Africa At Odds Over Ebola Quarantine", CNN news, October 29, 2014