Russo Oana

Ululani Brigitte Russo Oana is one of four recipients of the inaugural cohort of the Hawaiʻi Pacific Foundation Doctoral Research Award. Administered by the UH Mānoa East-West Center, the programʻs mission is to support outstanding doctoral students to conduct high quality research that advances the commitment or contribution to the study of issues important to the Native Hawaiian community.

Russo Oana, who is completing her PhD in Curriculum and Instruction, will receive $12,500 for her research and the opportunity to stay in the East-West Center. The culminating product of the six-month program will be a seminar session presented at the East-West Center.

The focus of Russo Oana’s research is on the development of Waiʻanae Intermediate students’ Hawaiian identity through an Aloha ʻĀina curriculum.

“My advisor Eōmailani Kukahiko has been particularly crucial for me as a student,” Russo Oana said. “She has guided me and pushed me through many obstacles that I often felt overwhelmed by. It is because of her that I am able to holomua (progress).”

Russo Oana was one of six esteemed scholars who were selected to participate in the first cohort of the 2022 We The Peoples Before Education Fellows. A program within the First Peoples Fund, We The Peoples Before honors and supports native artists, culture bearers, and educators through the We The Peoples Before festival as well as other financial, mentoring, and networking resources.

In 2018, Russo was awarded the “Outstanding Graduate Student Poster Presentation” by the Hawaiʻi Conservation Alliance at their annual conference for her paper on Wai‘anae Intermediate School’s place-based, culturally responsive STEM learning activities. The same year, she was also selected to attend the National Geographic National Summer Institute Teton Science Schools in Jackson Wyoming.


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