Jennifer Quirk

Jennifer Māhealani Ah Sing Quirk, who is earning her PhD from the College of Education Department of Educational Administration (EDEA), received the Doris Michiko Ching Award for Excellence as a Student Affairs Professional from the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA).

“This award is important to me as a Native Hawaiian, first-generation college student because my parents did not know how to help me when I began my collegiate journey,” Quirk said. “They hoped that my sister and I would go to college, graduate, and get ‘good jobs.’ Being where I am now – a Ph.D. student, a director of a program, and the recipient of the Doris Ching award – I know that this award isn’t mine alone. This award also belongs to my ʻohana, my parents, my husband, and my children whose support make it possible.”

Director of the Office of Student Equity, Excellence and Diversity (SEED) Graduate Professional Access Program, Quirk was also awarded the Innovative Academic Support Initiative award by ACPA (College Student Educators International). She will be recognized by both of these leading student affairs professional associations at their national conferences in March.

A member of NASPA since 2012, Quirk’s research focus is on the Native Hawaiian and Indigenous student experience in higher education. She serves as co-principal investigator of Hilinehu: Educational Leadership Advancement (HELA) and as principal investigator and project director of Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH), both Native Hawaiian Education grant programs.

“I am grateful to my EDEA ʻohana, from the faculty and staff to my colleagues in the department,” Quirk said. “The support, guidance, comradery, and aloha I’ve received have been critical to my professional and personal development as a student affairs practitioner and human being. I want to take a moment to recognize my mentor, colleague, and friend, Dr. Erin Kahunawai Wright, for her endless support and aloha since I entered the field over ten years ago. I wouldn’t be where I am without her. I am additionally grateful to share this award with my dedicated and talented colleagues in the SEED Office and Native Hawaiian Student Services (NHSS).”


Annually, NASPA recognizes the outstanding contributions of members who are transforming higher education through exceptional programs, innovative services, and effective administration.

Dr. Christine Quemuel, who earned her PhD in EDEA, received a NASPA Pillars of the Profession award. She is currently the Interim Assistant Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion at UH Mānoa.

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