University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa doctoral candidates Natalie Nimmer, Egle Ortega, Nipuni Sirimalwatta and Qiong Wu, were awarded the Founder Region Dissertation Fellowship from Soroptimist International for the 2017–2018 academic year. These diverse recipients stood out from more than 30 semifinalists for the potential of their dissertation research to benefit society at large.
They will be flown to the annual Founder Region conference in in San Ramon, California, where they will be honored and share their research findings. Each awardee will receive $10,000 of unrestricted funds to cover expenses during their dissertation writing process.
“I really don’t like asking for help, but the cost of the cancer added to the cost of my doctoral program. This fellowship will ease that burden, so I can focus on the last phase of my program,” said resilient cancer survivor Nimmer.
Nipuni, originally from Kandy, Sri Lanka, stressed the importance of the fellowship, particularly for international students. “I don’t have any guarantee that I’ll get a teaching assistantship for the incoming semester. The Founder Region Fellowship is a great support for me to feel secure and continue my studies.”
Dean of Graduate Education Krystyna Aune noted, “We are so grateful for our continued collaborations with the Founder Region of Soroptimist International which generously supports our female doctoral students who are making a significant societal impact through their research.”
“I strongly encourage UH Mānoa women doctoral candidates to apply for this unique fellowship. This organization truly believes in supporting women to their fullest potential,” said Office of Graduate Education Fellowship Coordinator Tasha Kawamata Ryan.
About the Founder Region Fellowships
The Founder Region Fellowships are awarded each year to outstanding women doctoral candidates at universities within ten counties in California, Hawaiʻi, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. Founded in 1921, the Founder Region of Soroptimist International is committed to work to promote social justice, equity and the empowerment of women through economic independence and greater participation in decision making at all levels in the community. Recognizing the challenges, such as financial burdens and family life balance, the organization created the fellowship to minimize hardships and ensure that highly motivated women complete their dissertations.