Savannah Directo is the 2018 recipient of the Matthew Somchai Therrien Memorial Award, which is given to an outstanding student at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo majoring in English. Directo is pursuing a bachelor of arts in English and a creative writing certificate. When she first arrived at UH Hilo, she was awarded a UH Hilo Chancellor’s Scholarship, a prestigious award created for graduates from Hawaiʻi high schools that covers four years of tuition.
Directo enjoys writing and intends to become a high school teacher in English. A prolific reader, she enjoys fantasy fiction, in particular the works of Ursula le Guin and J.R.R. Tolkien. In her own writing she prefers flash fiction, because, she says “it allows you to tell a whole story in a few words, which is challenging, but also fun.”
Directo maintains a 4.0 grade point average, and her poetry and short stories have been published in Kanilehua: UH Hilo Art and Literary Magazine. Her publications include the short stories “Cleaning Up,” “The Legendary Letter” and “Indigo Heart,” as well as the poem “My Strange Real Name.” Directo also is president of the Lion Tribe Club, a student organization at UH Hilo.
Upon entering UH Hilo, Directo became part of a Living Learning Community cohort specializing in creative arts. The program houses cohorts of incoming first-year students together according to similar interests and career goals. Students support each other in their studies and work alongside faculty members in their chosen fields of interest. Under the guidance of Professor of Art Michael Marshall, Directo did community service at arts events in downtown Hilo.
About the Matthew Somchai Therrien Memorial Award
Matthew S. Therrien was an aspiring English major at UH Hilo at the time of his tragic death in a car accident on April 6, 2014. He was a gifted poet and writer with a dream of becoming an English professor.
The Matthew Somchai Therrien Memorial Award was initiated by a generous donation made by Stephen and Gloria Gainsley, longtime friends of the Therrien family. The $500 annual award recognizes an outstanding UH Hilo student majoring in English.
Directo is the fourth recipient of the award.
—From UH Hilo Stories