HPU student selected for Fulbright

June 29, 2012

Kelly Ratana

Kelly Ratana

HONOLULU — Incoming Hawai‘i Pacific University graduate student Kelly Ratana was recently named a 2012 Foreign Fulbright scholarship recipient. Ratana, of New Zealand, will pursue a Master of Science in Marine Science degree at HPU.

“I am absolutely overwhelmed. It’s a tremendous honor to receive a Fulbright Graduate Award,” Ratana said. “I can’t wait to see where this takes me in the future.”

The Fulbright program is the most widely recognized and prestigious international exchange program in the world. The program actively seeks out individuals of achievement and potential who represent the full diversity of their respective societies.

“The Fulbright Program fits very closely with HPU’s mission to educate for global citizenship,” said Carlos Juarez, Ph.D., HPU’s Fulbright program advisor. He is also the incoming president of the Fulbright Association’s Hawai‘i chapter.

“HPU offered me the chance to explore not only the wonderful marine environment on their doorstep, but also with an opportunity to broaden my interests in freshwater systems and management,” Ratana said. “HPU also offered opportunities to explore indigenous Hawaiian culture in this context — and who wouldn’t want to study in Hawai‘i, right?”

To get ready for her studies at HPU, Ratana has been working closely with Susan M. Carstenn, Ph.D., associate professor of environmental sciences.

“What makes me excited about working with Kelly is that she’s focused,” said Carstenn, who is supervising Ratana as she pursues an ambitious program of integrating local, indigenous knowledge with scientific knowledge using geographic information systems (GIS).

“Dr. Carstenn has been an amazing help in everything leading up to now,” Ratana said. “I consider myself lucky that she contacted me to join the MSMS program at HPU.”

Carstenn said that Ratana as a Maori person is “very interested in policy and cultural aspects. It’s important to her that what she learns at Hawai‘i Pacific University can be taken back to New Zealand.”

Juarez noted that global awareness and participation is a hallmark of Fulbright participants.

“Fulbrighters are, in effect, citizen diplomats who help bridge cultures and promote mutual understanding between people of the U.S. and people of the world,” Juarez said.