Category Archives: Scholarship and Grant Profiles

AAUW Scholarship Recipient: 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.

AAUW Scholarship Recipient: 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


AAUW Honolulu Tweet Coleman Aviation Scholarship Recipient: Caitlin Basilio

Caitlin Basilio has dreamed of becoming a pilot since she was a child but never believed a small-town island girl could make being a pilot her career.

Her journey began a year ago while she was living in Seattle. Caitlin was born and raised in Mililani and graduated from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Ore. in 2014 with her bachelor of arts in psychology and rhetoric and media studies, working in journalism and marketing.

Now living back on Oahu, she is working to complete her Private Pilot License and is moving forward to complete her ratings. She is passionate about flying and loving people.

In her free time, she loves to surf, hike, eat and spend time with friends and family — but she feels most at home soaring through the air, sitting at the controls of an aircraft.

AAUW Scholarship Recipient: 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 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.”

AAUW Scholarships Recipient: 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 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.

Tweet Coleman Aviation Scholarship Profile: Nobi Buntin

A member of AAUW Honolulu since 2018, Nobi Buntin worked on the AAUW Scholarship Interview Committee to interview candidates for our 2019 academic scholarships. Tweet Coleman, namesake of the aviation scholarship,  appointed Nobi to serve on the 2020 Aviation Scholarship Committee.

She is also chair-elect of the Aloha Ninety-Nines Ninety-Nines. Nobi credits her inspiration to get involved in the aviation community in Hawaii with attending a Talk Story Tuesday event in July 2018. She said, “Learning how Tweet Coleman has been a trailblazer for women pilots over the years was incredibly inspirational.”

Nobi is currently in Las Vegas for flight raining. The comment she sent with the photo was “I completed my initial Commercial Multi-Engine checkride two hours ago! My next goal is to obtain a Commercial Single-Engine Add-on!”

She added, “I am now navigating my way towards becoming a Medical Evacuation Pilot. According to my flight plan, the ETA towards meeting the Medical Evacuation First Officer requirements is three years from now. Since earning my Instrument Rating, I am working full throttle to acquire my Commercial Multi-Engine Pilot Certificate, my MEI and CFI licenses.
With an unprecedented demand for MEI and AMEL pilots in Hawaii, I intend to specialize in instructing ME students. I am currently volunteering at a local flight school and they have formally offered me a teaching position once I have I obtained an MEI. Since teaching comes second nature and is extremely rewarding, I am eager to utilize my previous bilingual teaching experience to flight instruct the local and international community. This approach will serve as a jet bridge to build hours while I navigate my way towards my ultimate dream of becoming a professional Medical Evacuation Pilot.”

Update 12/1/2019:

Janet Morse, Tweet Coleman Aviation Scholarship Chair, recently sat down with Nobi for a question and answer session about how the scholarship has helped her.

What got you into aviation?
Becoming a pilot was a childhood dream. However, I was always told it would never become reality due to the high cost of training. After my intro flight in 2015, I was addicted to flying. Determined to find a path, with the help from countless foundations and organizations awarding scholarships, my dream began to slowly unravel and become reality.

Where are you in you training?
I completed my Commercial Multi-Engine Certificate in June 2019, followed by Pilatus PC-12NG training at FlightSaftey International in Denver, CO. I am currently working on my Certified Flight Instructor Certificate which will enable me to utilize my extensive teaching experience.

What did you achieve by being awarded the Tweet Coleman Scholarship? How did it help you?
Being awarded the AAUW Tweet Coleman Aviation Scholarship allowed me to propel towards my goal of becoming an Air Ambulance Pilot. The Tweet Coleman Aviation Scholarship enabled me to receive the absolutely priceless opportunity to receive over 40 hours of in-depth Ground School from a flight instructor who is considered a legend and has the utmost respect in Hawaii.

What are your short and long term goals?
I am in my senior year at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, working on my BS in Aeronautical Science. If everything goes as planned, I will graduate in Spring 2021.
My long term goal is to become an Air Ambulance Pilot in Hawaii to pay back society. I believe this would be the most honorable career while fulfilling my craving of giving and nurturing others.

How do you give back to the community
I have always got a pleasure out of paying forward. It’s a hobby of mine, in a way. Standing at the helm of the Ninety-Nines Aloha Chapter, being the Treasurer for Women in Aviation Hawaii 50 Chapter, and sitting on the AAUW Tweet Coleman Aviation Scholarship Committee, etc…I find all to be extremely rewarding. Mentoring the future generation, watching them achieve their goals, offering guidance to the various committees, gives me extreme satisfaction. It’s invigorating to watch mentees win scholarships, pass exams & checkrides, watching their “wings grow” and careers take-off.

What’s your advice for the next generation of women aviators?
When you choose to chase the wonders that aviation has to offer, you must accept and embrace the fact that the odds are against you. Training is ridiculously expensive and time consuming, comprehending and understanding the material is challenging, the “boys club” mentality, and if you are a pilot – it’s a constant battle with Mother Nature! Aviation is designed for folks with a diehard mentality!

With that being said, take time to enjoy the ride. Aviation is an extremely deep subject, it cannot be mastered hastily. Never stop learning, but most importantly never stop sharing your knowledge and experiences! There is no need for competitiveness. There are countless paths and room for each and everyone of us to have a successful career.

What’s your advice for future scholarship applicants?
Get involved! Attend meetings, events, volunteer and most importantly surround yourself with honest-loving people who will not only celebrate your achievements but also act as a pillar when you face obstacles and setbacks. Nobody is immune to disappointments in aviation. Your inner voice is usually your worst critic. If you run in to anybody who brags about never having setbacks – run and don’t look back! Everybody in aviation needs a support group!

Treat your application with respect it’s as if you are applying for a job at a Fortune 100 corporation. Have a goal and design a strategic plan to achieve it. Anticipate unexpected delays, begin preparing your application package far in advance and submit early.

Tweet Coleman Aviation Scholarship Profile: Leslie Caubble

Leslie Caubble and her husband host the Fly Maui aviation podcast where they promote general aviation and share inspiring pilot interviews.

She is active in the Aloha Chapter of the 99s and a volunteer with Girl Scout STEM events, and aviation days on Maui. Through the 99s and the Fly Maui podcast, she hopes to motivate other girls and women to follow their dreams and learn how to take the steps to reach their aviation goals.

Update 1/5/2020:

Janet Morse, Tweet Coleman Aviation Scholarship Chair, recently sat down with Leslie for a question and answer session about how the scholarship has helped her.

What got you into aviation?
Learning to fly was something I wanted to do for a long time. My grandmother was my inspiration to dream big and become a pilot one day. It was the encouragement of my husband, who arranged my first discovery flight, to do something for myself and follow that dream. I’ve never looked back!

Where are you in you training?
I’m currently in training for my commercial certificate. As I’m practicing maneuvers, I’m also building my right seat flying skills in anticipation of becoming a CFI. My plan is to pass the commercial written exam within the month.

What did you achieve by being awarded the Tweet Coleman Scholarship? How did it help you?
Receiving the Tweet Coleman Scholarship was an incredible honor that came at just the right time. The scholarship amount was exactly what I needed to push through to the end of my instrument rating. I’m happy to say within 2 months of receiving the Tweet Scholarship, I was able to earn that instrument rating!

What are your short- and long-term goals?
My short term goal is to finish the commercial training then immediately move into CFI study and training. Maui has a huge need for passionate flight instructors. Many potential students at our flight school have to wait on their training because we don’t have enough CFIs. I want to become part of the solution! My long term goal is to complete the multi-engine commercial and multi-engine instructor. I’d also like to fly part time for Mokulele, flying people around our beautiful state.

How do you give back to the community?
Involvement in the aviation community is very important to me. We recently formed a new Maui Chapter of the Ninety-Nines, and I was elected Vice Chair. Through the 99s, I help present in Girl Scouts STEM events, Maui aviation days, organize meetings and socials, and mentor some of our new student pilots. I also volunteer my time as social media admin for our Chapter, as well as my former Aloha and Memphis Chapters. I co-host an aviation podcast called “Fly Maui” and use that platform to promote general aviation, share my flight training journey, and encourage other pilots to reach their flying goals. I also enjoy flying puppy rescue missions in Hawaii and volunteering with my golden retriever therapy dog with Caring K9s Maui.

Your advice for future applicants?
My biggest piece of advice for future applicants is to find something that you love to do that gives back to your community. Do it with excellence, and do it often. Everyone has that “special something” that is unique in their aviation journey. Don’t be ashamed to share it with others. You never know who you might inspire to get into flying or be a safer pilot through your story. Weave these things into your essay and interview. Even student pilots have so much to offer!

Tweet Coleman Aviation Scholarship Profile: Elizabeth L’Heureux

Not only is Elizabeth L’Heureux passionate about flying, she’s also a philosophy major and a nationally certified massage therapist.

She’s served as the Aloha Ninety-Nines vice-chair and is a charter member of the Ninety-Nines Maui chapter In her spare time, she spreads the word about flying at STEM days, Girl Scout Days, fly-ins, scholarship application reviews, writing recommendation letters and mentoring — and she’s also founded an Aviation Lending Library on Maui.

“I have a dream, a goal, a plan and the tenacity to become a Certified Flight Instructor,” Elizabeth said. “I earned my Airplane Single-Engine Land Pilot Certificate on November 11, 2016 and my Airplane Instrument rating on March 21, 2019. I will be a commercially-rated pilot within a few months! My five-year plan is to obtain a glider rating, seaplane rating, complete my tailwheel endorsement and become a CFII. My long-term dream is to be a Hawaii-based pilot, while offering instruction, guidance, mentoring to aviation enthusiasts and pursuing my professional aviation career.”

AAUW Grant Profile: Sara Ward

Theatre is Sara Ward’s passion.

From volunteer usher, to child actor wrangler, to line prompter, to set changer, to props designer, to box office ticket sales, to box office manager, to officer manager, and finally to house manager, she’s done almost everything in theater — except acting!

Sara moved to Honolulu, Hawaii in 1989 and immediately began volunteering as an usher in theatres all around Oahu. In 2002, she worked  at Manoa Valley Theatre as a part-time clerk in the box office.

Over a decade and a half later, Sara’s an Administrative House Manager, in charge of the box office and the business office. She’s received three Po’okela Awards from the Hawaii State Theatre Council for her work: Excellence in Service at MVT in 2004; Masks/Props Design for A Christmas Carol at MVT in 2010; and the Adjudicator Special Award (Props) for Young Frankenstein at MVT in 2012.

The AAUW Honolulu Career and Leadership Development Grant allowed her to attend the INTIX 2019 Texas Conference Program. She was able to to meet with peers from other nonprofit organizations, attend classes and workshops, discover new technology, improve her approach to audience development, enhance her box office and office management skills and — most importantly — learn new ways to include every member of our community in the theatre experience.

“I am very thankful to AAUW Honolulu for making this exciting and wonderful opportunity possible,” she said.

If you’re interested in learning more about AAUW Honolulu’s Career and Leadership Development Grant, and when the applications will be taken, click here!

A Q-and-A with Our 2013 Tweet Coleman Aviation Scholarship Recipient, Sarah Hudgins

How has your career progressed since you received the aviation scholarship?

I was awarded the AAUW Aviation Scholarship to earn my Commercial license in 2013. The commercial license is required to receive any compensation as a pilot. I passed my commercial check ride in November 2014 and got a lucky break a week later. A friend called to ask if I wanted to be his co-pilot ferrying a Cessna Caravan C208EX from the mainland to Hawai’i. The single-engine, turboprop flight California to Honolulu took 14.5 hours. Turned out that we were delivering the plane for Mokulele. I applied there and gently persisted until I finally spoke to HR from my brother’s basement on Christmas Eve. I started as a First Officer with Mokulele in February 2015 based in Kahului for the first two months then got back home to HNL. After about a year I went through upgrade training and flew for them as Captain another year. I’d already been flying around the islands for years, but now I was being paid for it! It was a wonderful job, but the time came to make a jump to bigger aircraft. After the process of interviewing and training, I began flying for Envoy, owned by American Airlines, in the 65-seat CRJ-700 made by Bombardier based at O’hare. I just recently completed the training to upgrade on the same jet and am now Captain Hudgins once again. The Aviation scholarship was the catalyst to all this progress. It was key in keeping me moving forward, staying motivated and removing some of the financial burden that comes with advancing in this industry.

Have you seen more women pilots since you began your career?

This is a tricky question to answer. I SEE more women pilots. But, overall, there aren’t any more women pilots relative to male pilots. According to the FAA Airman statistics, the number of women pilots , including student pilots, has remained between six to seven percent for the past 20 years. This includes student pilots, recreational pilots and sport pilots as well as professional pilots. The good news is that among the women who do hold a certificate, more of them are becoming professional pilots. The percentages of women who hold their Air Transport License (ATP), required to fly for an airline, has seen a steady increase over the last ten years. This tells us that of women who hold a license, more of them are choosing to pursue flying as a career rather than a hobby. And they are going for the top rungs of the ladder. So I’m seeing more women on the message boards and Facebook groups who are interested in wearing the airline uniform and taking leadership positions.

What would you tell any girl or woman in college who’s thinking about getting into the aviation industry?

First, it is essential to connect and build a network of other women pilots. Support will surprise you at times, other times you will find the need to share an experience with someone else who understands your path in a male dominate industry. Find your people and hold them close. Second, you will encounter inequity. It will come at you subtly and blatantly. Consider how to respond, what to let slide, and when to speak up. This is a small world and a conservative industry. Always be professional and keep on your path regardless of what hurdles others may try to put in your way. Finally, this is a rewarding and challenging path in so many ways. Be persistent. There will be bumps in the road. There will also be clear skies and perfect landings. Keep at it. Enjoy the view, and work hard, and celebrate your accomplishments. You can do it!