Former student reflects on Rachel Dolezal's past - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Former student reflects on Rachel Dolezal's past

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Maddison Nilges Maddison Nilges
COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho -

A media firestorm has surrounded Rachel Dolezal since news broke with allegations that she may have lied about her ethnicity. She announced on Monday morning that she would resign as the Spokane NAACP chapter president, news that was hard to hear for some in the Lake City.

"She was very smart and genuinely cares about making this community a better place," says Maddison Nilges, who attended summer camps led by Rachel Dolezal when she worked as an Educational Director at the Human Rights Education Institute in Coeur d'Alene from 2008 to 2010.

"She was very adamant that we had an understanding and respect for other people's cultures," says Nilges.

Nilges tell KHQ, Dolezal wasn't just an educator, for her, she was also a family friend of nearly 10 years. The recent allegations against Dolezal has shone a light on a woman they feel close to and still are trying to support.

"We're all kind of mixed about it," says Nilges. "I'm not sure of the whole story or why she's said what she said or hasn't said."

For Nilges, the allegations aren't important, but what is, is the impact Dolezal has had on the community.

"People need to remember that she's a person and she's done a lot of great for this community. Regardless of how this all pans out, she's done amazing things in this community for civil rights and human rights in general."

Administrators with the Human Rights Education Institute refused to comment. However, they did release a statement saying the working contributions Dolezal made during her time at the institute were greatly appreciated.

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