About Our Staff

Above all, our staff is here to serve the student and ensure that the program provides an outstanding experience to all who participate. This includes everything from academic advising to extracurricular activities. We’re dedicated in what we do.

Here are a few introductions from our full-time staff. We hope this gives a better idea of who we are as individuals, but more importantly, who we are as a team.


Vernadette Vicuña Gonzalez, Ph.D.


Vernadette Vicuña Gonzalez, Director of the Honors Program, is Associate Professor of American Studies and also currently serves as Chair of the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Council at the University of Hawai‘i, Mānoa. She earned her Bachelor’s degree at Princeton University in English Language and Literature (with certificates in Theater and Dance and African American Studies) and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies (with a Designated Emphasis on Women, Gender and Sexuality) from the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Gonzalez has been teaching at the University of Hawai‘i since 2006. Her research and teaching are focused on studies of tourism and militarism, transnational cultural studies, feminist theory, postcolonial studies, Asian American cultural and literary studies, American empire and globalization studies with a focus on Asia and the Pacific.Dr. Gonzalez has published scholarly articles on tourism and militarism in Hawai‘i and the Philippines, Asian American popular culture and the politics of hospitality. Her published articles and book chapters can be found in several collections, including Transnational Crossroads (U. Nebraska, 2012); Militarized Currents (U. Minnesota Press, 2010); Alien Encounters: Asian Americans in Popular Culture (Duke UP, 2007) and AsianAmerica.Net (Routledge, 2004), as well as in journals such as The Global South (2009) and Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies (Summer 2007).

Her book, Securing Paradise: Tourism and Militarism in Hawai‘i and the Philippines (Duke, 2013) examines the modern military and touristic ideologies, cultures, and technologies of mobility and surveillance in the Philippines and Hawai‘i. It illustrates how the roots and routes of the US military are foundational to tourist itineraries, as well as how modern tourism is central to the mission of unilateral American militarism.

She is currently at work on several research projects. The first is a fleshly and intimate genealogy of imperial geopolitics and desire through the life story of Isabel Rosario Cooper, a mixed-race Filipina vaudeville and film actress who was an erstwhile mistress of General Douglas as well as a Hollywood aspirant. The second is a genealogy of empire, gendered labor and hospitality in Hawai‘i, mapped out through material culture such as quilts, lei, and other souvenirs. She is also hoping to launch a collaborative digital oral history mapping of the anti-eviction movement in 1970s Hawai‘i.

Email: vvg@hawaii.edu
Phone: (808)956-5404


Academic Advisor

Siobhán Ní Dhonacha, M.F.A

Siobhán NDSiobhán Ní Dhonacha is the Academic Advisor for the Honors Program and Regents and Presidential Scholars. She earned her B.A. in Political Science and Politics of Theatre from Western Washington University , and her M.F.A. in Theatre/Playwriting  at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (UHM). Currently, she is pursuing a Ph.D. in Educational Foundations at UHM. Her area of interests include the philosophy and ethics of care, student success strategies and initiatives, mentoring, access to higher education, first generation students, public policy, and globalization.

Email: dhonacha@hawaii.edu
Phone:  (808)956-0756




Educational Specialist

Jennifer Farrales Custodio, M.A.


Jennifer Farrales Custodio is an Educational Specialist for the Honors Program since 2011. She earned her B.A. in History from California State University, Long Beach and her M.A. in American Studies at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa (UHM). Currently, she pursuing another master’s degree in Educational Administration in Higher Education. Her area of interests are Filipino American history, culture, and community, and student advising, support, and services for under-represented students of color in higher education.

Email: jfc7@hawaii.edu
Phone: (808)956-8391