Categorized | Education

Native Hawaiian fellowship program accepting applications


The Mellon-Hawaii Doctoral and Postdoctoral Fellowship Program for Native Hawaiian doctoral and postdoctoral scholars has received funding for an additional three years.

The Kohala Center recently received $500,000 from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to continue the program, and is now accepting applications for the 2011-12 academic year.

“This is a significant commitment on the part of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation,” said Matt Hamabata, executive director of The Kohala Center. “The renewal of the fellowship program is really a testament to the extraordinarily high quality of work produced by past and current fellows. And we are extremely grateful to The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for its continuing commitment to support the development of new knowledge about and for Hawaii.”

The Mellon-Hawaii fellowship program was established in 2008 for Native Hawaiian scholars early in their academic careers and for others who are committed to the advancement of knowledge about the Hawaiian natural and cultural environment, Hawaiian history, politics, and society.

Since its inception, eight scholars have completed the fellowship with great success.

All doctoral fellows completed their degrees, including Dr. Noelani Arista, who won in 2010 the prestigious Allan Nevins Prize by the Society of American Historians for the best-written doctoral dissertation on an American subject, and Dr. Kauanoe Kamana, who is one of the two first scholars to earn a doctorate specifically in revitalization of indigenous languages.

Among the postdoctoral fellows, book projects are moving forward with Kamehameha Schools Press, the University of California Press, the University of Minnesota Press, and Duke University.

In this current year, five scholars have received fellowships.

“The Mellon Hawaii Doctoral and Postdoctoral Fellowship Program is one of the most interesting, innovative, and successful support programs for emerging researchers that is available anywhere in the world,” said Winifred H. Crombie, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Language and Language Education at the University of Waikato, New Zealand, and mentor to current fellow Keao NeSmith.

As Crombie points out, in addition to providing financial support and time, the program also ensures that fellows have opportunity to prepare for presentations of their research, provides networking opportunities, and introduces fellows to publishers who may be interested in their work.

It also provides opportunities for fellows to increase their knowledge and understanding of traditional Hawaiian culture; and fellows are expected to make a contribution to the revitalization of Hawaiian culture and to demonstrate that they are actively involved in community-based activities.

“There is simply no other program like the Mellon-Hawaii fellowship program,” said Noelani Goodyear-Kaopua, Ph.D., and current fellow.

It supports her individual research and professional development and is developing a new generation of scholars and body of knowledge that will influence the lahui Hawaii and many others for generations to come, she said.

“The program is making an important difference in the lives of everyone in Hawaii,” said Noenoe K. Silva, Ph.D. and assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, who serves as mentor for current fellow Leilani Basham.

“By providing fellowships, they are helping Kanaka Hawaii complete their dissertations and go on to do important work in higher education and other arenas,” she said. “Their post-doctoral fellowships are providing the precious time needed for our Kanaka scholars to turn their dissertations into books, which everyone in our communities can read, learn from, teach from, and enjoy.”

Fellow Hiapo Perreira said, “The Mellon-Hawaii fellowship program is an unprecedented dedication to the advancement of Hawaiian scholarship at the doctoral and postdoctoral level. To date, no other program, internal or external of Hawaii, has directly committed this level of support that actualizes a new generation of Hawaiian scholars.”

“We need more internationally educated Hawaiians to broaden our view of the world and to understand our place in it if we are to affect significant and meaningful change in Hawaii,” said Keao NeSmith, whose fellowship allows him to complete his doctorate in Applied Linguistics at New Zealand’s University of Waikato. “I am thrilled that other Hawaiians will have the same kind of opportunity that I had to attend a university overseas and to pursue fields that will surely have a major impact on our society in Hawaii.”

The current cohort of fellows also includes Noe Noe Wong-Wilson, doctoral candidate in the School of Maori and Pacific Development, University of Waikato, New Zealand; and Leilani Basham, Postdoctoral Fellow, Ph.D., Political Science (2007) University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Previous fellows are Arista, B. Kamanamaikalani Beamer, Kuualoha Hoomanawanui, Karen Ingersoll, Sydney Lehua Iaukea, Kamana, Kathleen Kawelu, and Nanette Nalani Sing.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Kamehameha Schools supported the fellowship program in 2008-2009, 2009-2010, and 2010-2011. In 2010-2011, the Kahiau Foundation joined the effort.

The application deadline for the 2011-12 academic year is Feb/ 28. Award notifications will be made by April 4.

For information about the fellowship program or to apply, visit or contact Cortney Hoffman, or 808-887-6411.

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