Category Archives: Academic Scholarship Recipient Profiles

Pam Estell

Pam Estell is a 2008 AAUW Honolulu Academic Scholarship recipient. In her own words, here’s how our scholarship’s helped her!

My name is Pam Estell and I am a third year Ph.D. student at University of Hawai’i Manoa, studying Information and Communication Sciences. This interdisciplinary program allows students to engage with, and dive deeply into intertwined subject areas like social informatics, social media, communication, information technology, management, data, and network science. Upon completion of the Ph.D. program at UH Manoa, I would like to pursue a career as a full time college professor and researcher. At present, my research program seeks to examine the use of social media within organizations (often referred to as Enterprise Social Networking Sites ESNS) and its role in organizational productivity.

This spring, the AAUW Honolulu has generously awarded me a scholarship that will allow me to present a research paper that was recently accepted to the Hawai’i International Conference on Systems Sciences (HICSS) in Wailea, Maui. Not only does publishing and presenting this paper fulfill a core requirement for my degree program, it is an important first step in joining a broader academic conversation on topics that affect the everyday lives of both organizations and their employees. Additionally, as females are typically underrepresented in STEM fields such as information science, this conference provides the opportunity for me to network with other seasoned women in the IS field. Finally, this conference will allow the opportunity to receive feedback on my research schedule that will be invaluable as I approach the dissertation phase of the program. The HICSS paper will serve as the baseline for my dissertation research and the input from other academics well seasoned in their fields will undoubtedly help me refine its scope moving forward. I’m moved and very humbled by the AAUW Honolulu’s generosity and investment in students such as myself. This conference will surely serve as a springboard for continued academic participation and leadership as I continue to learn and grow as an academic and researcher.

Jayleen Barin

Jayleen Barin is pursuing an undergraduate at the University of Hawaii — Manoa in exceptional students and elementary education and aspires to be a special education teacher.

First and foremost, I would like to share my sincere appreciation and humbly thank you for providing an opportunity for students pursuing a higher education in the education field and for selecting me to be a recipient of such a generous opportunity. I am immensely grateful for this financial opportunity because it is opportunities like this that empower and support students like myself to diligently reach goals and be successful in college, so we may in turn give back to our community tenfold.

I will be continuing my education at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa and am in my last year for my undergraduate study! I am currently a senior continuing to major in Exceptional Students and Elementary Education. Upon graduation, I aspire to be a special education educator at a low-income or Title I school in Hawaii while continuing my studies in graduate school. Thus, thank you so, so much for investing in my future and in the future of Hawai’i! This gracious financial support and opportunity helps tremendously and enables me to continue to remain steadily focus and continue to get straight A’s and give my absolute best in both my course lecture as well as in the classroom. As a single mother, sometimes a parent’s dream takes a backseat, thus, falling low on the list of priorities. However, with this opportunity I can diligently continue to work hard in reaching my academic goals and making my dream a reality.

Thus, from the bottom of my heart, thank you once again for seeing the value in higher education and seeing the value in me.

Lohelani Furtado-Gaspar

University of Hawaii — Manoa freshman Lohelani Furtado-Gaspar plans on majoring in social work and criminal justice. She’s inspired by organizations like Palama Settlement and Nā Pua Noʻeau because they reinforce the  importance of education.

I would like to personally thank each and everyone one of you who took part in selecting me to be a recipient of the AAUW scholarship. I feel so blessed to have this opportunity to make my community a better place and now have the resources to do so. It is people like you who believe in the younger generation that really makes a change in the world. We are the future but you guys are the now and what you guys do now impacts how we change the future.

I have been working hard to achieve my high school goals for all four years and sometimes I wondered if it was all worth it, it is times like this that I can truly see how all hard work pays off. Thank you for not only choosing me as a recipient but also recognizing the hard work I have done to get where I am today.

Haiying Li

Haiying Li was a 2019 recipient of AAUW Honolulu’s educational scholarship. She is an accounting major.

She wrote:

I am writing to express my sincere gratitude to you for making the AAUW Honolulu Branch Educational Fund possible. I was thrilled to learn of my selection for this honor and I am deeply appreciative of your support.

I am going to major in accounting with hopes of becoming an accountant in the future. The financial assistance you provided will be of great help to me in paying my educational expenses, and it will allow me to concentrate more of my time for studying.

Thank you again for your generosity and support. I promise you I will work very hard and eventually give something back to others. I hope one day I will be able to help students achieve their goals just as you have helped me.

Ronja Steinbach

New Mexico native Ronja Steinbach dreamed of becoming a marine biologist. Despite coming from the land-locked state, she made the move to attend UH-Manoa.

AAUW Honolulu’s academic scholarship helped to make her dream a reality.

Dear AAUW Honolulu Branch,

I am honored and immensely grateful to have been selected as one of this year’s Educational Fund Scholarship recipients; thank you so much for your time, support, and generosity. Coming from the landlocked desert state of New Mexico, my enduring dreams of studying marine biology felt like a goal that was just out of reach. Now, due to your support, I am able to continue my out-of-state education at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa, where I am majoring in marine biology, minoring in botany, and seeking certificate degrees from the Honors Program and Marine Options Program. Through my academic pursuits, I plan to do innovative research in the marine ecosystem and someday share my knowledge by becoming a professor.

In the words of Drew Fuast, “We educate women because it is smart. We educate women because it changes the world.” I am a woman entering the STEM field; I am a woman seeking to learn more about the planet that supports us; I am a woman looking to conserve the ocean and the creatures that live within it; I am a woman seeking to use my scientific knowledge to create a more equitable world; I am a woman who wants positive change; I am a woman and through my education, I am taking the first step towards changing the world. Thank you, AAUW Honolulu Branch, for making that possible for me. The support of women in education is catalyzing the creation of a unified, informed, and positive community which will help us secure an ever-improving future. My main interest in marine fungi may seem unconventional towards creating these changes, but everything is connected and will have a domino effect. Thank you for starting the chain reaction. Thank you for empowering us women and supporting our academic endeavors. Thank you for being a role model in the community.

With gratitude,

Ronja Steinbach


Jamaica Aquino

Jamaica Aquino is continuing her education as a respiratory care practitioner at Kapiolani Community College as a second-year student, giving her experience in a hospital setting. During my clinical rotations, Jamaica’s learned to adapt to a new environment with each visit, while meeting interesting patients and gaining skills she could only gain in a clinical environment.

She wants to continue her education at UH-West Oahu to obtain a bachelor’s degree — and she’s  excited to do her part to help in the current pandemic.

“By awarding me with the AAUW Honolulu Branch Educational Fund Scholarship, it certainly has lightened my financial burden as I balance school, work, volunteer and leisurely activities. And through the AAUW Organization, I have met many inspiring women who give meaning to the words ‘girl power,'” she said. “Again, your generosity is very much appreciated, and I hope to do my best in being a devoted member of our community. Despite the difficulties that have all come upon us, thank you for upholding our aloha spirit.”

Fiona Miranda

Fiona Miranda is a senior at the University of Hawaii at ​Manoa​ studying anthropology with a focus on forensic anthropology. She’s the vice president of UH-Manoa’s anthropology club and a member of its graduate student mentoring program.

She’s engaged in research on clothing decomposition in different burial conditions, and after she graduates, she plans work towards an advanced degree in forensic anthropology.

“Receiving this scholarship allows me to focus more on my studies, my research, and the extracurricular activities that I am involved in. It also relieves much of my financial burden, since I pay for tuition by myself through part-time work,” she said.