Eomailani K. Kukahiko and Kaiwipuni K. Lipe, doctoral students in the College of Education (COE) at UH Mānoa, were named doctoral fellows by the Mellon-Hawai‘i Doctoral and Postdoctoral Fellowship Program. Designed for Native Hawaiian scholars who are committed to the advancement of knowledge about the Hawaiian natural and cultural environment, history, politics, and society, the program enables fellows to complete their dissertations over the course of one year.

Kukahiko, who is earning her PhD of Education in curriculum and instruction, is working on ways we can infuse culture into mathematics and mathematics into culture. “It is an honor to be involved with this group, including the current fellows, postdocs, and mentors,” she said. “These are people whose work I cite in my own work. The program also creates a sense of community, not only culturally, but as working mothers. It is an important piece of our story, the process to this point and the support we have gained with this fellowship.”

Director of the college’s Master of Education in Teaching (MEdT) program and Kukahiko’s mentor, Joseph Zilliox said, “Eomailani is well deserving of the Mellon-Hawaiʻi Fellowship. Her research on why and how teachers incorporate culture-based experiences into mathematics instruction is both timely and relevant to mathematics education in Hawaiʻi and the Pacific. Receiving the fellowship frees her to focus more intently on completing her study while adding to her experience and building her confidence as an emerging indigenous scholar.”

As a doctoral candidate in the COE Department of Education Administration, Lipe focuses her research on how the University of Hawaiʻi, a predominately non-Hawaiian institution, can become a Hawaiian place of learning. “This is an opportunity to really engage with a group that you would not normally have the chance to gather together,” she said. “Besides finishing our dissertations, this fellowship enables us to interact with a very supportive group of scholars and practitioners.”

Maenette Ah Nee-Benham, Dean of Hawai‘inuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge, wrote, “Punihei Lipeʻs dissertation uniquely joins three bodies of knowledge – Hawaiian Language and Culture, Post-Secondary Education, and Leadership for Social Justice. Through this lens, she will work to address the ethical, moral, and cultural elements of indigenizing post-secondary education. This fellowship presents her with opportunities to engage with a broad range of scholars, the time to think deeply and to write, and the confidence to speak in her own voice.”

The Mellon-Hawai‘i Doctoral and Postdoctoral Fellowship Program was established by the Kohala Center in collaboration with the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Kamehameha Schools. The not-for-profit center for research, conservation, and education supports the development of scholars from Hawai‘i so that they may lead educational and research institutions locally and around the world.

As part of the competitive selection process, candidate applications are reviewed by a distinguished panel of senior scholars and administrators from the Kohala Center, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Kamehameha Schools, Cornell University, Hawai‘i Community College, and the U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. Once selected, fellows are required to commit to their writing projects full-time, to attend a series of retreats on the Island of Hawai‘i, and to establish successful working relationships with their mentors.

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