Frap with Faculty Fall 2018

Now that we’ve heard from some of UH Manoa’s students, we have prepared a panelists of faculty to share their insights on a successful experience as a student here at UHM.



Dr. Siobhán Ní Dhonacha

Born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, and the first in her family to earn a degree, Dr. Siobhán Ní Dhonacha has enjoyed working with and teaching diverse students in institutions such as Western Washington University, New York University, and the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.

A screenwriter, playwright, and fiction writer, Dr. Ní Dhonacha was awarded the Diamond Head Theatre’s Burnett/Selleck Scholarship, and was the 2010 UHM Page to Stage Essayist.

Committed to lifelong learning and continuing education, Dr. Ní Dhonacha completed a COLT Graduate Certificate in online learning and teaching from the UHM College of Education, has earned a PhD from the UHM College of Education entitled, “The Ethics of Care as a Framework for Higher Education Philosophy and Implemented Policy: Can Mentoring Microconnections Produce Powerful Macro Effects?”, and a Master’s of Fine Arts in Dramatic Writing and Theatre from the UHM Department of Theatre and Dance. Dr. Ní Dhonacha was honored and privileged to be invited to serve as a Student Marshall for both graduation ceremonies.

Dr. Ní Dhonacha currently serves as a UHM Honors Program Faculty Specialist/Advisor, and developed and teaches the innovative Honors 333 Experiential Learning and Scholarly Engagement Writing Intensive online course, advises the Regents and Presidential Scholars (RAPS), the Doctor of Medicine Early Acceptance Scholars for Honors, and has served as the Honors Faculty Advisor to the Honors Program Student Organization and RAPS Student Organization.


Dr. Kelly Aune

Kelly Aune has been a faculty member at UHM in the Department of Communicology for 30 years. About half of that time I have spent in administrative positions. Now, at the back end of my career, I get to be a plain vanilla professor. The classes I teach and the research I do focus on how the process of communication works and why doesn’t it work with Siri and Alexa.


Dr. Julie Walsh

Dr. Julie Walsh is an associate faculty specialist at the Center for Pacific Islands Studies. She advises undergraduates, teaches courses, and oversees the development and assessment of the BA curriculum in Pacific Islands Studies, including service learning. Her research and expertise involve American adoptions of Marshallese children, Compact of Free Association migration, and Marshallese understandings of the US-RMI relationship. Her current interests include impactful pedagogies, including service learning, civic engagement, and internships; and advancing multimedia and interdisciplinary teaching resources for Pacific Islands studies at all levels . Walsh is the founding editor of the Teaching Oceania digital textbook series. She is also an author of the Marshall Islands’ first high school history textbook, Etto nan Raan Kein: A Marshall Islands History (2012). She recently worked with Hawaii State DOE to revise 7th grade curriculum standards for Pacific Islands Studies, which will be implemented in Fall 2019.

Dr. Denise Nelson-Hurwitz

Dr. Nelson-Hurwitz’s journey to Manoa began about a half mile from campus. She was born in Honolulu and raised in a house just a few blocks away from campus. A graduate of Maryknoll School, she walked on to the UH Mānoa campus as the first member of her immediate family to attend college. School took priority as Dr. Nelson-Hurwitz worked multiple jobs to support herself as a economics major and pre-med student. During her junior year, she was introduced to public health in an Honors seminar focused on medical history. Following graduation with a BA in economics, minor in biology, Dr. Nelson-Hurwitz applied for both medical school and an MPH (Masters in Public Health) program in epidemiology. After an initial rejection from JABSOM, she pursed her masters degree in epidemiology at UHM and later decided on a route to a PhD in Microbiology, rather than re-applying to medical school.
For the past five years, Dr. Nelson-Hurwitz has been a faculty member at the UHM Office of Public Health Studies, and has served as chair of the Bachelor of Arts in Public Health degree program for the past four years. She currently teaches PH 201 (Introduction to Public Health), PH 480 (Application of Public Health Principles in Research & Practice), and PH 485 (Applied Learning Experience). Her past research has focused on molecular epidemiology of influenza virus and Native Hawaiian cancer disparities, but her current research projects primarily involve public health educational pedagogy, student services, and improving food access among low-income populations in Hawaii.