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Archive for the ‘AAUW Fellows’ Category

Clinton Global Initiative

2012 has been a year of memorable accomplishments for AAUW’s many fellowships and grants recipients. Last week we highlighted some fellows from our 2012 Following the Fellows series; this week we want to showcase some of our other fellows. Publishing books and articles, giving TED talks, and hosting a national television show are just a few examples of the impressive things AAUW alumnae have done this year.

More than 15 current and former fellows published books this year, in genres as varied and unique as the authors themselves. From Rose Corrigan’s work on violence against women to Jessica Faye Carter’s book on women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and from Emilie Zaslow’s Feminism, Inc. to Erin Winkler’s Learning Race, Learning Place, 2012 was a year of innovation and fascinating research.

Besides writing great books, AAUW fellows have also been publishing articles in magazines, newspapers, and journals. Take Vanessa Perez, who became a frequent contributor to the Huffington Post, writing about DREAMers, immigration, and human rights. Or Julia Damianova, whose article “The Coming Mediterranean Energy War” was published in The National Interest, or Michal Gilad Gat, whose criminology articles were published in no fewer than three journals. And the list goes on!

AAUW Fellow Amina Tawasil, "33 Bridges, Standing, Still, on a Fluid of Emotions," featured on the Anthropology News website.

2012 has also been a year of prestigious recognition for the diverse work of AAUW fellows and alumnae. In the fall, Carol Tang was named one of California’s Leading Women in STEM for her after-school education advocacy. Barbara Ann Naddeo won the Jacques Barzun Prize in Cultural History for her book Vico and Naples: The Urban Origins of Modern Social Theory. In October, Kristen Johnson was selected as an honoree at the Los Angeles African American Women’s Public Policy Institute’s Women in Action Awards. Not one but two former fellows won awards for translation from the PEN American Center, an international literary and human rights organization: Suzanne Jill Levine received the Literary Award for Translation, and Margaret Sayers Peden received the Ralph Manheim Medal for Translation. In the art world, current American Fellow Amina Tawasil won an award in the American Anthropological Association’s 111th annual photography contest.

Jessica PabónAnd these weren’t the only AAUW fellows and alumnae who made waves this year. Beginning in February 2012, Melissa Harris-Perry began hosting a show on MSNBC. And did you know that Jane Chen was featured in The Impact 30 section of Forbes for her work on the low-cost Embrace incubator for infants? Or that Chen is part of PBS and AOL’s Makers website and documentary, along with women like Lilly Ledbetter and Gloria Steinem, 2003 AAUW Achievement Award winner? Current AAUW fellow Jessica Pabón gave a powerful TED talk on graffiti artists and feminism in November. And in March, Rachael Rollins assumed the role of president of the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association. And in the past year, many other fellows and grantees have received leadership awards, honorary degrees, and book awards!

AAUW’s Fellowships and Grants Department wishes everyone a happy and healthy New Year. Following the Fellows will continue into 2013, marking five years of sharing alumnae stories. May the new year be filled with inspiring women, powerful connections, and stories that move us.

This post was written by AAUW Fellowships and Grants Intern Emily McGranachan.

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Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg with scholars

Whether you are back at work today, still lounging by the Christmas tree in your pajamas, or making it through winter vacation with the kids, we’d like to suggest a moment of reflection. This year the Following the Fellows blog series profiled some trailblazing, take-no-prisoners AAUW alumnae. As the weather gets colder and we surround ourselves with our loved ones, we want to share a few of our favorite Following the Fellows posts from 2012.

  • In February Melissa Harris-Perry, a 2001–02 American Fellow, began hosting her own show on MSNBC! Harris-Perry says:

When I think about the number of things the fellowship meant to me, it’s really hard to express what it meant — what a difference one year can make in the life of a junior faculty woman. I don’t think it’s possible that the rest of my career could have happened without that time.

  • We met Wanjiru Kamau-Rutenberg, a 2005–06 International Fellow who was recently honored as a 2012 White House Champion of Change for her work with Akili Dada, an organization that is devoted to empowering the next generation of African women leaders. For all aspiring activists, Kamau-Rutenberg has two pieces of advice:

Firstly, put one foot in front of the other. Move. Act. Do something. Second, remember that it’s not about you. Make sure your actions maintain a focus on the lives of the beneficiaries you’re supposed to be supporting.

  • Teizeen Mohamedali, a 2009–10 Selected Professions Fellow, formed a friendship with her AAUW fellowship sponsor, Elisabeth Bathgate, that inspired Mohamedali to prioritize paying it forward in her career and in her support of women’s education.
  • We also remembered renowned Bolivian artist Marina Núñez del Prado, a 1940–41 International Fellow. Her work received critical acclaim, including from former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who noted that Núñez del Prado’s work expressed “motion in an extraordinary way.”
  • Anissa Patton, a 2000–01 Selected Professions Fellow and welfare child law specialist, advised young women starting their careers not to get caught up in the hunt for profit but rather to “follow your dreams and love what you do. … Remember, you can always do well by doing good.”
  • This fall, sociologist Jody Aguis Vallejo told us, “It is so important to [reach out to your communities], meet others, network, cross boundaries, build a core group of people who don’t necessarily share the same interests, and attack inequality.”

This is only a sampling of the many women we profiled in 2012. This is by no means an exhaustive list. For all the great stories from 2012, check out the Following the Fellows series! Next week, we will highlight other fellows and accomplishments from this year. For more information and updates on AAUW’s amazing fellows and alumnae, check out our Twitter page. If you are an alumna, if you would like to be featured on the blog, or if you just want to keep us informed about your accomplishments, e-mail us at fellowships@aauw.org.

This post was written by AAUW Fellowships and Grants Intern Emily McGranachan.

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Image courtesy of Barbara Romzek“Be flexible; what works today may not work tomorrow.”

Barbara Romzek believes this motto can apply to anyone’s career and life plans. Certainly, it is one that she herself has lived by. When Romzek received an AAUW American Fellowship in 1978, she had already learned the importance of being open to change. Describing her academic career as an “evolutionary process,” Romzek changed her research focus while she was a student during the Cold War. She switched from a comparative study of the challenges that U.S. and Soviet government employees face in balancing personal lives with public sector jobs to an exclusive focus on government employees in the United States. Concerns about accessing reliable data and being able to have open and honest conversations, given the tense political situation, prompted her to concentrate on the United States.

Romzek credits her AAUW fellowship with allowing her to dedicate a year to writing, which she says made for a better dissertation and ultimately a better job. That extra year became pivotal for her career path. After completing her doctorate, Romzek began teaching at the University of Kansas School of Public Affairs and Administration, an opportunity she sees as being directly tied to her research and fellowship.

Becoming an administrator was not something Romzek had planned. After more than a decade of teaching, she reluctantly accepted her department’s chair position. For years, Romzek’s research had been in public administration, so the new job was almost like field work. It did not take long before Romzek discovered that she found the job intellectually and personally rewarding. From there she continued to rise through university administration. Last summer, she left Kansas to move to Washington, D.C., to be the new dean of the School of Public Affairs at American University.

With all her responsibilities as dean and professor, Romzek still finds time to publish academic articles and contribute to books. Until recently, her writing focused on formal accountability in public administration, which has to do with balancing responsiveness and efficiency while doing your best at work and being a well-rounded person overall — no small task for employees. Lately, Romzek has been writing about informal accountability between government contractors who are not required to work together but should. For example, contractors in social services like foster care and mental health agencies do not have to consult each other, but it is in the best interest of a child in their care that they do communicate. After a career of research and work in public administration, Romzek is still intrigued by the subject and continues to write about it.

According to Romzek, everyone should “develop a plan that allows you go get to the life you want, but be flexible with your goals along the way.” Life is all about hard work, perseverance, direction, and flexibility. The combination has been successful for Romzek. She proves that dedication, passion, and a willingness to adapt make for an impressive path.

Romzek’s American Fellowship was sponsored by the Florence Edna Rowe American Fellowship, an endowment created by AAUW of Texas in 1964.

This post was written by AAUW Fellowships and Grants Intern Emily McGranachan.

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Image courtesy of Kristina HalonaKristina Halona was one of those kids who were obsessed with anything that flew. She remembers the exact moment when she looked up at a low-flying jet traveling over the isolated Navajo reservation in Arizona where she grew up. The awesome power of the machine, the stark contrast between its technology and her life without running water or electricity, changed her. From that moment, Halona was always outspoken about her love of engineering. In high school, a combination of talent and supportive teachers helped Halona find opportunities and mentors in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

A school counselor told Halona about an intensive multi-year STEM summer camp at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. Teachers and counselors also encouraged her to join an after-school STEM club and travel to local universities to meet professors and students. Through these experiences she was able to develop her skills, talk with engineering professionals, and begin to see herself as an aerospace engineer. Even though there are few women — especially Native American women — in the STEM fields, Halona never doubted her path. When Halona first attended the Phillips Academy camp as part of the Massachusetts Science for Minority Students program, she had to work hard to catch up to the students who came from privileged backgrounds. That summer marked her first trip outside of Arizona and her first time on an airplane, but despite being out of her element, Halona held her own and successfully completed all three summers of rigorous courses

With all her hard work and success, Halona is still very aware of what her life could have been like — Native American teen dropout rates are double the national average. Even more seriously, she notes that youth suicide rates on tribal reservations are up to 10 times higher than among the national population.

Halona in action

Halona in action

While at Arizona State University, Halona was elected to be the student representative to the board of directors of the American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES), of which she had been a member and chapter president for years. Through that position she met her mentor John Herrington, the first Native American astronaut to fly in space, who was also on the AISES board. Meeting Herrington and learning from his mentorship was a meaningful opportunity to Halona since there are not many Native Americans in STEM fields. In 2002, Halona was invited to join Herrington’s family to watch his shuttle launch at the Kennedy Space Center. Today Halona is a flight test engineer at Raytheon Company in New Mexico.

Halona received her AAUW Selected Professions Fellowship in 2008 while getting her master’s degree in engineering at George Washington University. When she attended AAUW events, she felt in awe of all the members and her fellow grantees. But Halona says that being among them opened her eyes and inspired her to keep going.

A spark ignited in Halona the day she saw that jet flying over her, and it never went out. Halona has lived by her own advice: “No matter your background or where you come from, never give up.”

Halona’s Selected Professions Fellowship was sponsored by the Leona Buckley Miller American Fellowship, established in 1999, and the Flora Rawls American Fellowship, established in 1981.

This post was written by AAUW Fellowships and Grants Intern Emily McGranachan.

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For as long as Dahlia Eissa can remember, she has been a feminist. Growing up in Australia with Egyptian immigrant parents, she was never afraid to ruffle feathers. She began her activism leading Know Your Rights workshops for Muslim women with the Islamic Women’s Association of Queensland. Early on, Eissa knew she wanted to work with women in immigrant communities, and she saw law as the natural career choice for her passions. Following 9/11, she established the Arab American Justice Project, a network of pro bono attorneys who advocate for Arab Americans facing discrimination, harassment, and deportation.

Dahlia Eissa

After finishing her undergraduate degree in Australia, Eissa wanted to pursue postgraduate studies in Islamic law and women’s rights. Finding the right program was a challenge. She wanted to study law as a feminist first and as a lawyer second. Her AAUW International Fellowship was the kick-start that made it possible for her to attend Harvard Law School. Without the award, she says, she would not have been able to come to the United States.

Today, Eissa uses her knowledge of law, women’s rights, and Islam to encourage women to broaden their perspectives of what is possible in their lives and identities. She insists that women do not need to be restricted to the binary of Western or Muslim worlds, but rather that women can be true to their Muslim identities and principles while embracing and being embraced by American society.

Eissa has been inspired by the women of the Arab Spring and the women of Egypt in particular. Her academic research has primarily focused on Islamic law and women in Egypt. So when the revolution began last year, Eissa strongly felt that she had to somehow support Egyptian women. She asked herself, How will this new wave of activism play out for women?

When we spoke last week, the first draft of the new Egyptian constitution was being voted on by the country’s Constituent Assembly. Sadly, the new constitution completely leaves out any provisions that guarantee the rights of women and girls. Eissa described the draft as absurd but predictable. As the world watches the women of Egypt, Eissa is focusing on how she can support them from the United States. Working with women activists on the ground, her strategy lies in mobilizing other women to minimize the negative impact of the legislation. The rejection of protections for women and girls could open the door to other dangerous allowances in the law, such as lowering the marriageable age for girls or blocking the recent U.N. resolution that calls for the end of female genital mutilation practices.

Eissa is deeply passionate about women’s rights and gender equality. Even as a teenager, she recognized inequalities between men and women that were supposedly justified on the basis of “biology.” Eissa rejected socially constructed distinctions based on sex and spoke her mind, even when fearful of the backlash that she could face. Being an outsider, she says, is worth the risk in order to pursue what you believe in because, in the end, you’ll find that you aren’t that much of an outsider after all. In a culture that “banks on women being submissive,” Eissa wants women to “be fearless.” Let’s follow Eissa’s powerful example and go out there and ruffle a few feathers.

Eissa’s International Fellowship was sponsored by the Margaret Bigelow Miller International Fellowship, established in 1986, and the Helen B. Taussig International Fellowship, established in 1974.

This post was written by AAUW Fellowships and Grants Intern Emily McGranachan.

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