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Join us for our Annual Scholarship Brunch!

2016 AAUW Honolulu scholarship awardees

Promoting female equity in academics is one of AAUW’s core missions. AAUW Honolulu is proud to present this year’s scholarship recipients at our 2017 Scholarship Brunch!

Please RSVP by Aug. 5.

Sunday, August 20th
10 am Registration, 10:30 am Program

Outrigger Canoe Club
2909 Kalakaua Ave., Honolulu, HI 96815

Scholarship Awardees  (current and former), complimentary
General Members $35, Students $20

  • Price: $35.00 Quantity:
  • Price: $20.00 Quantity:
  • Scholarship Awardees (Current & Former) - $0
  • $0.00

AAUW Op-Ed Highlights the Issue of How Student Debt Impacts Women – June 22, 2017

AAUW NCCWSL scholarship recipient and former AAUW Students of Manoa treasurer Dionne Malia Infiel and Ardis Eschenberg, Ph.D., vice chancellor for academic affairs at Windward Community College, co-signed this Island Voices column in the Honolulu Star Advertiser on June 22, 2017 about the issue of student debt and how it impacts women.

Read it here,  though if you aren’t a subscriber to the Star Advertiser, read it below!

Bigger debt, lower wages hamper female college graduates
By Ardis Eschenberg, Ph.D., and Dionne Malia Infiel
June 22, 2017

Women attending colleges and universities have come a long way. The good news is that now 57 percent of students earning bachelor’s degrees from American colleges and universities are women. Currently in the U.S., 44 million borrowers hold about $1.3 trillion in outstanding student loans.

Unfortunately, according to research by AAUW (American Association of University Women), women take on larger student loans than do men, resulting in two-thirds of the outstanding student debt or more than $833 billion held by women. Coupled with the gender pay gap (women earn 26 percent less than men), women take longer to pay back their student loans than their male counterparts. A lower salary means less income to help with debt repayment.

A new report, “Deeper in Debt: Women and Student Loans,” recently published by AAUW (, gives an analysis of federal government data. It shows 44 percent of female undergraduates take on student debt, while 39 percent of male undergraduates take on debt. At every degree level, women take on more debt than men.

AAUW advocates ways to help women and other minorities resolve this issue by safeguarding and expanding Pell Grants for low-income students, as well as providing nontraditional students the resources they need — on-campus child care, for example — to successfully complete college degrees.

Windward Community College is one local institution working to provide just such a resource. Grant funds were secured to create a child care center — two rooms: one infant and one toddler — currently under construction to be completed by March. It will hold eight toddlers, six infants and be conducted in Hawaiian language. A luau fundraiser recently raised money for furniture and other expenses. Now, funding needs to be secured for the positions needed to run the center. Legislative support for these positions is critical to answering the needs of all our student parents and addressing the needs of female students, who are disproportionately saddled by student debt.

Solutions to the student debt problem should also include supporting income-driven repayment approaches that reflect borrowers’ realities. And our support for students should address the additional costs they face beyond tuition. Congress can also end the harmful causes of the gender pay gap by passing legislation like the Paycheck Fairness Act and the Pay Equity for All Act to aid in the economic security of women.

Receiving scholarships from AAUW and other foundations can offset some of the loan burden, but the bulk of funding comes from grants and student loans.

On June 15, the AAUW Honolulu Branch participated in Lobby Day on Capitol Hill as part of the AAUW National Convention. Thirteen members of the branch asked our Hawaii representatives in Congress to support protecting and strengthening federal financial aid programs such as Pell Grants, Public Service Loan Forgiveness, and Income-Driven Repayment. These programs are critical to the success of women in higher education and can help to curb the student debt burden they experience.

Member Spotlight: Merissa B. Brown, Ed.D.

Although raised as a farm girl in landlocked southern Illinois, Merissa has spent most of her adult life on various Pacific islands including Guam, Maui, and most recently, Oahu.

Merissa teaches speech and writing for several colleges and holds an Ed.D. in leadership and technology, a master’s in communication, and bachelor’s in speech communication. She is building a consulting business offering editing, technical writing, and instructional design services.

In her free time, Merissa enjoys running, hiking, stand up paddling, cooking, and assisting in conservation efforts.

Member Spotlight: Deborah Hornsby, Ed.D.

Deborah Hornsby, Ed.D., is the director of academic affairs at the University of Phoenix, Hawaii campus and has been at the University since 2006. She holds a Hawaii State Teaching License in secondary English and earned graduate degrees in education administration, English Language Learning, and Curriculum and Instruction. She earned a doctoral degree in Educational Leadership in 2010. She is a former professional triathlete and has completed five Hawaii Ironman triathlons.

Aspiring Engineers, Doctors and Scientists Get Hands-on with their Future at Tech-Savvy 2017

The US faces a labor shortage of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (or STEM) professionals. The shortfall has been described, by the former presidential administration of Barack Obama, as a national security and competitiveness issue.

To make up for this shortfall, interest in STEM fields must be generated in today’s students, but women have been underrepresented in STEM. AAUW Honolulu addressed the shortage of women in STEM careers with TechSavvy, a day-long career conference for girls in the sixth to ninth grades and their parents. The conference was held Saturday, April 22, 2017, 8:30 am to 4 pm at Hawaii Pacific University’s Windward Hawaii Loa Campus. It was sponsored by HPU, Hawaiian Airlines, and Hawaiian Electric.

Monica Isava, mechanical engineer at Apple, and Dr. Brenda Jensen, dean of HPU’s college of natural and computational sciences, gave keynote addresses to the attendees. The day was divided into hands-on workshops where the attendees explored topics such as, “What lies beneath? Simulating Mapping of the Ocean Floor,” “Robotic Navigation of an Obstacle Course” and “Medical Laboratory Scientists, Solving Medical Mysteries”. The second half of the day focused on “savvy skills” or skills they can use in their everyday life.

SB 501, HB 552, SB 514 Among Legislative Wins for this Session

This legislative session, we’ve helped to pass bills regarding the clear disclosure of reproductive health services, mitigating any negative effects a repeal of the Affordable Healthcare Act and allowing pharmacists to administer vaccines.

Senate Bill 501 regulates Limited Service Pregnancy Centers, which (despite their names) are non-medical centers, typically staffed by people lacking medical credentials who pretend to have medical expertise.

These facilities often provide their clients with medical misinformation. Women visit these locations in times of personal duress, when they are considering abortions. But the goal of the centers is to limit women’s access to abortions, through lies, trickery, and manipulation. In addition, they sometimes leak women’s health status.

The new bill clearly defines these centers, typically organized by churches or religious groups, stating they must keep visiting women’s information private. They are also required to provide information about true reproductive health services to women. If they refuse to cooperate with the law, the “clinic” can be hit with civil penalties and actions.

House Bill 552 was passed in the final days of the legislature, when the possibility of losing national health provisions was heightened. The goal of this legislation is to set up an Affordable Health Care Working Group to mitigate the negative effects if/when the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is repealed by Congress.

Senate Bill 514 is important since it could diminish the large numbers of unvaccinated young people in Hawaii. It should increase rates of vaccination for HPV, Tdap, meningococcal illness, and influenza, by allowing licensed pharmacists to administer the shots to young people, aged 11 to 17 years.

AAUW Honolulu Members Participate in Equal Pay Day

Equal Pay Day marks the day when women’s salaries match those of their male peers from the previous year.

AAUW branches across the US educated the public about the significance of the event and what things need to change with regards to law, policy, and American ideas about men and women to diminish the gender pay gap. Honolulu branch participated in activities on the day, and in the week leading up to April 4.

Members of Honolulu Branch attended Mayor Ige’s Proclamation of Equal Pay Day, organized by AAUW-Hawaii, and attended by members of all three Oahu branches. We were delighted to have a small child join in the event with his mother, showing gender pay equity has the potential to improve the lives of children, women, and men in Hawaii and across the U.S.

Two other events occurred prior to Equal Pay Day. AAUW Honolulu was represented on Hawaii Public Radio, in a one-hour segment of Town Square hosted by Beth-Ann Kozlovich focused on the gender pay gap. In addition, AAUW Honolulu, in coordination with the YWCA, the Hawaii Commission on the Status of Women and Hawaii Appleseed organized a “salary negotiation” informational event at the YWCA on Monday, April 3.

Equal Pay Day was observed by two proclamations, signed by Governor David Ige and Mayor Kirk Caldwell. Honolulu Branch members also supported a lobbying educational event at the Hawaii State Capitol, organized by AAUW Hawaii, the Hawaii State Commission on the Status of Women, the YWCA, and Hawaii Appleseed. The group visited most of the offices of State House Representatives and Senate, speaking with many of the office staffs, and senators and representatives about the gender pay gap. AAUW materials were left in all the offices, and we can anticipate an equal pay bill in the 2018 Hawaii legislative session.

At the end of the day, AAUW Honolulu provided a wonderful Talk Story Tuesday (un)Happy Hour at Ferguson’s Pub. AAUW Honolulu member Younghee Overly organized a trivia quiz, ending a successful day.

If you missed Equal Pay Day this year, get involved in the AAUW Honolulu Branch Advocacy Committee, and join Younghee, Bev, Judy, and Sue in future educational advocacy events.

Sadly, there will be another Equal Pay Day next year — at current rates, women will not achieve gender parity for many more decades.

Catching Up With Our Awardees at the 2017 Scholarship Alumni Event!

Members of AAUW Honolulu and past awardees of the group’s scholarship gathered at the Hawaii Yacht Club on Thursday, March 16, 2017 to catch up on their work.

  • Joy Lacanienta received a graduate fellowship from AAUW Honolulu Branch in 2013. She recently produced an award winning  documentary film “Unsheltered Crimes” that focuses on the social issue of criminalizing poverty by incarcerating the unsheltered communities of Hawai‘i.
  • Julia Graham received the Tweet Coleman Aviation Award in 2016. She has an advanced degree in aeronautical science and is working on a commercial multi-engine pilot’s license.
  • Ruth R. Fletcher, Ph.D. received a national AAUW American Fellowship to finish her dissertation before moving to Honolulu and taking on the role of Head of School for St. Andrew’s Schools.

Don’t Just Work Hard — Work Smart!

Are you interested in negotiating your salary, navigating pay raises and getting that promotion?

If you are, attend Work Smart, an AAUW program that will help you close the pay gap!

AAUW’s Work Smart program is designed to empower women with the skills and confidence to successfully negotiate their salary and benefits packages. By learning strategies and practicing effective language, participants gain valuable skills they can use throughout their lives — well beyond their next negotiation.

Fill out the information below, and we’ll keep you updated about this important AAUW Honolulu seminar!

Member Spotlight: Sharon Joy Estioca

My name is Sharon Joy Estioca, 39, single mother and born and raised in the Philippines. I am a native Western Subanon in the Southern Philippines. Our language is in danger of disappearing.

I was an elementary school teacher in the Philippines before I came to the US in the Fall of 2014 to start my graduate studies at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. I came to the US to obtain a Ph.D. in linguistics so that I can also serve my country not only by teaching but also by helping to document the undocumented indigenous languages, particularly on my island, Mindanao, Philippines.

I am in my third year of my Ph.D. program and will be finished with my coursework this semester. As a non-native speaker of English, it is my aim is to write my own, and I hope to complete my studies here at UHM in the Spring of 2020.