UHM Honors Program Faculty Specialist & Academic Advisor

Siobhán Ní Dhonacha

"Much of who I am today is the result of the positive influence of higher education as well as of teachers who believed in me."


Dublin, Ireland


Educational Foundations

Related Degrees

  • PhD, Education: Educational Foundations

Describe your current position?
As a faculty specialist with the UHM Honors Program, who also has a teaching load, I am  continually rewarded by being a part of the student journey toward self-belief, ownership of knowledge, and engagement with inquiry and innovation. As a first-generation student, it is especially gratifying to encourage and support those students who may not see themselves as “honors material” but who undoubtedly are.

How did you become interested in the field of education?
My parents did not have access to secondary level education (middle school/high school) as it was fee-based. As inquiring minds, they always felt very frustrated in their lives, which had a negative impact on family dynamics. I did not have access to a university education in Ireland. Education is about knowing there is more and experiencing that, we can be part of that knowing as well as the creation of new knowledge and perspective. Without education, life can feel like a closed door to many. Much of who I am today is the result of the positive influence of higher education as well as of teachers who believed in me. I will always be grateful for that. My hope continues to be that I will pass the light of educational and life opportunity gained from pivotal educators at crucial moments in my own life on to others.

Is there anything in particular about the COE that has helped you along in your career?
I have attended a few institutions of higher learning, fortunately, and can honestly say that the COE ranks highly on many levels in my experience. As a working professional in the COE, I was given a great start under the tutelage of Dr. Curtis Ho and then Dr. Beth Pateman. I also gained great work experience at OSAS and with wonderful colleagues in different departments. I feel particularly lucky to have been part of the educational foundations department where I received essential wisdom and help from excellent faculty both current and who have retired in the last few years. A special nod to my amazing PhD committee chair and advisor, Dr. Hannah Tavares, and my wonderful PhD committee. I am currently lucky enough to be in the LTEC Graduate certificate COLT Program, so my wonderful graduate COE journey continues!

What are your future plans?
I plan to remain at UHM for the next few years at the very least and to pursue the tenure-track that I am currently on while my spouse completes a master’s degree. I hope to write some articles, possibly even a book, continue creating curriculum, teaching, developing programs, advising, and most of all, being of practical and compassionate service to students on multiple levels.

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