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Building a Graduate Student Pipeline for Pacific Island Students

The proposed project seeks to create pathways to graduate and professional school for Pacific Island students. Pacific Islanders have a long and rich history in Utah, and yet, are still severely underrepresented in higher education including graduate/professional school and the professoriate. At the U, they represent under half a percent of the current graduate student body. This project builds on current initiatives that seek to promote student success to transform lives through an intensive program created for current undergraduate students at the U to explore graduate programs and research across the humanities, education, and health sciences. This program will develop and transfer new knowledge that will build the pipeline of graduate students and community engaged scholarship that will have positive lasting impacts in their communities. It will also create the U as the place for Pacific Islanders to pursue their graduate and professional work and create a pipeline of researchers and faculty that will fill the gap in academic research and faculty communities.


Although there is a significant community of Pacific Islanders in the Salt Lake Valley, Pacific Islanders continue to be disproportionately underrepresented in higher education at all levels including those enrolled in graduate and professional schools. In order to meet this significant need, over this past year, we offered Zoom workshops and a webinar series that focused on graduate skills building, mentoring, research, and demystifying academia for our select cohort of Pacific Islander scholars. In addition, we were able to create spaces for our scholars to hear from current Pacific Islander graduate students, faculty members, community leaders and researchers. The program and its successes will be measured for many years to come. Many of the cohort matriculated into graduate and professional programs this fall and others plan to apply over the next few years. In order to disseminate the information more widely, much of the series including its workshops were recorded and uploaded to a YouTube channel. This was intentional for the program and resources to be more widely accessible in order to create a large and robust cohort of Pacific Islander graduate students. With this, the U will continue to be recognized as the flagship research intuition for producing and creating leading Pacific Islander scholars.


Kehaulani Vaughn
College of Education
Education, Culture & Society
Project Owner

Nia Aitaoto
College of Health
Nutrition & Integrative Physio

Matthew Basso
College of Humanities

Project Info

Funded Project Amount

Educational Pathways, Pacific Islander, Indigenous, Graduate/Professional School, Community Engaged Scholarship

Project Status
Funded 2020

View poster (pdf)
Last Updated: 12/7/22