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Mariana Rocha de Souza

A University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa marine biology graduate student was awarded the American Association of University Women (AAUW) 2020–21 fellowship. Recipients of AAUW grants and fellowships pursue academic work and lead innovative community projects to empower women and girls.

Mariana Rocha de Souza received AAUW’s international fellowship for $20,000, while she continues to pursue her PhD in marine biology at UH Mānoa’s School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology. Through local outreach and international speaking engagements, Rocha de Souza hopes to encourage more girls to pursue careers in STEM.

“AAUW recipients have to be working on their PhD, so talking about the research is an important aspect in the application process, but an equally important aspect is the activities we do to promote girls in STEM,” said Rocha de Souza. “This year because of COVID-19, I have been doing most of the outreach online, talking to kids in Brazil and different parts of the U.S. about my work and career in science. I hope that by sharing my experiences I am able to inspire and encourage more girls to follow a career in science.”

“Our fellows and grantees have a long and distinguished history of contributing to their schools, their communities and to society at large,” said Kim Churches, chief executive officer of AAUW. “Even in today’s challenging times, we know that this year’s recipients will continue in that esteemed tradition. AAUW is proud to provide the support they need to excel in their academic work—and to ultimately make the world a better place.”

AAUW’s awards help alleviate the burden of student debt so women can focus on developing their skills and experience. Educational funding is especially important given that women are disproportionately burdened by student debt due to the lifelong pay gap that affects women in nearly every profession.

“Winning the award made me super happy! It is such a relief to have a grant that will cover my stipend, so now with this grant I can focus 100% of my time on my PhD,” said Rocha de Souza. “It is an honor to be awarded along with all the international women recipients doing amazing work to promote more diversity in STEM.”

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