three women smiling
From left, Hannah Liebreich, Nathalie Rita and Randi Rollins. (Credit for Liebreich: Rebecca Goldschmidt)

Graduate students at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa are encouraged to apply for the Graduate Student Organization (GSO) Grants & Awards Program, which provides financial support for participation at professional conferences, research travel/materials and professional development experiences. Any graduate student who pays GSO fees is eligible to apply once per semester, to receive up to $2,000 for the funding of research materials, publishing fees, attendance of online conferences and more.

Application deadlines

  • April application cycle
  • Application due: March 25, 2021
  • May application cycle
  • Application due: April 22, 2021

Merit Based Awards Program

On an annual basis, GSO recognizes graduate student excellence in Diversity, Mentorship, Research, Service and Outreach, and Teaching through its Merit Based Awards Program. This year, GSO is issuing three awards worth $5,000 in each following categories: Diversity, Mentorship, Service and Outreach, and Teaching; and four awards in Research.

Application deadlines

  • Application due: March 8, 2021
  • Letters of recommendation due: March 15, 2021

Past recipients

Hannah Liebreich was one of the 2019–20 recipients of the Rachel Wade Merit Based Award for service and outreach. Her PhD dissertation in UH Mānoa’s Department of Sociology explored the impact of policies aimed at addressing gender-based violence on college campuses, which she successfully defended in fall 2020. For service, Liebreich has volunteered with the American Association of University Women and helped run grassroots campaigns for the Hawaiʻi State Legislature, in addition to serving in GSO.

“The Merit Based Award program helped me in my graduate studies in that it quite literally allowed me to finish,” said Liebreich. “My dissertation defense was postponed due to COVID-19, so I used the award to help supplement various costs associated with being a graduate student for an additional semester. Without this money, I’m not sure how I could have managed.”

Randi Rollins, a zoology graduate student in UH Mānoa’s School of Life Sciences, was a 2019–20 Merit Based Awards recipient for her work in research, which is focused on angiostrongyliasis (rat-lungworm disease), a debilitating and occasionally deadly tropical disease caused by ingestion of a parasitic roundworm, Angiostrongylus cantonensis. Through this award, GSO is supporting Rollins’ work that aims to better understand interactions between the environment, parasites and their hosts.

“The financial award as recipient of the Merit Based Award allowed me to stress about finances a little bit less and focus more on my research projects,” said Rollins. “The award also serves as an incentive to continue to do my best, and as a reminder that my research not only contributes to the scientific community, but it also impacts the people of Hawaiʻi.

Nathalie Rita, a PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology at UH Mānoa, is currently serving as the chair of the Merit Based Award program, a position she decided to pursue after being a recipient of the award. Rita’s favorite part of the job is getting to read about all of the amazing work being done by graduate students at UH Mānoa.

“I encourage other students to apply for the Merit Based Awards program because it is uniquely designed to recognize the diverse types of graduate student success on campus and beyond, and it does not have any citizenship or residency restrictions,” said Rita.

This program is an example of UH Mānoa’s goal of Enhancing Student Success, one of four goals identified in the 2015–25 Strategic Plan, updated in December 2020.

For more information, see GSO’s website for application instructions and frequently asked questions.