Skip to content
Reading time: 3 minutes
people looking at the camera and smiling
Founder Region Fellowship board members, 2021 and 2022 awardees, and guest speakers at the 2022 gala

For a third year in a row, women doctoral candidates from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa earned several grants recognizing their studies, research and work towards improving lives of women, girls, and society. Hannah El-Silimy, Crystal Kwok, Morsaline Mojid and Gabrielle Stedman each received $10,000 of unrestricted funds to cover expenses to complete their degrees by Soroptimist Founder Region Fellowship, Inc. Four out of the six 2022 Founder Region Fellowships were awarded to UH Mānoa students.

“This award makes me so happy that my documentary film is recognized as an important vessel of knowledge,” said Kwok, a theatre student. “Filmmaking is expensive, and women’s stories matter. I am honored to be a part of Soroptimist, and it encourages me to uplift other women and girls through my work.”

“I am honored to be a part of Soroptimist, and it encourages me to uplift other women and girls through my work.” —Crystal Kwok

Applicants may be doctoral women from schools in Northern California, Hawaiʻi, Guam, the Mariana Islands and the Republic of Palau. This year, Soroptimist held their award gala in person for the first time in three years due to the pandemic. Recipients from 2021 and 2022 were invited to attend and were honored during the ceremony in Waikīkī.

UH Mānoa Graduate Division’s Fellowships, Scholarships and Professional Development Coordinator Kristen Connors delivered a keynote speech.

“It was an honor being invited,” Connors said. “When you hear about the awardees’ research and contributions, it’s clear that they are making a significant impact and how impressive these women are. It’s inspiring.”

Kris Chorbi, Founder Region Fellowship president, said the non-profit has awarded more than $1.5 million to more than 350 doctoral women since 1948.

“Awardees have the potential to become leaders within their fields,” Chorbi said. “The candidates from UH Mānoa consistently receive several monetary awards and we are honored to be a part of their educational journey. We applaud their determination to advance in their fields and wish them all the best in their amazing careers.”

2023 applications now open

For those interested in applying for the 2023 Founder Region Fellowship, visit the organization’s website to learn more and register to attend an upcoming info session on November 21 at 4 p.m. or on November 30 at 1 p.m. Application deadline is January 10, 2023.

UH Mānoa’s 2022 awardees

  • Hannah El-Silimy studies political science and Indigenous politics in the College of Social Sciences. Her dissertation focuses on Indigenous women’s leadership in transnational social movements based in Northern Thailand and the Thai-Burma border. El-Silimy focuses on how Indigenous women’s activism and lives are shaped by and respond to authoritarianism in the region. El-Silimy hopes her work will highlight Indigenous women’s agency and leadership in Asian social movements and inform our understanding of how social movements and women respond to authoritarian rule.
  • Crystal Kwok is a theatre student in the College of Arts, Languages, and Letters. Kwok’s dissertation titled Blurring the Color Line: Disrupting Race, Gender, and Historical Narratives through Documentary allows her to demonstrate how media making is a place of transformative power, an important source of impact and change. It challenges homogenous text-centric ways of knowing and can amplify the voices of women from culturally diverse communities.
  • Morsaline Mojid, a sociology student in the College of Social Sciences, studies the extent to which protective strategies “protect” refugees. Her research focuses on the Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh where women make up a significant portion of her interlocutor and remain the prime victims of the claimed “protective” policies. Mojid’s goal is for her project to contribute to policy recommendations in the development of both an effective protective framework as well as self-reliance programs to empower refugees.
  • Gabrielle Stedman studies oceanography in the School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology and researches the biogeography of abyssal larvae. Large areas of the deep seafloor are designated for mineral mining, yet little is known about the ecology that will be affected by these economic ventures. The efficacy of conservation strategies is contingent upon understanding the larval phases that allow for species persistence. Stedman’s research will provide significant insight into this ecosystem and the effectiveness of current management strategies of the abyssal seafloor.
Back To Top