UH Mānoa English Graduate Named a Portz Scholar

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Brandy Dobson is one of four honors students nationwide to receive the NCHC’s top prize. Photo courtesy of UH Mānoa.

University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa English graduate Brandy Dobson has been named a 2017 Portz Scholar by the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC). Dobson is one of only four selectees nationwide to receive the award, the organizationʻs top prize for undergraduate honors students.

Dobson’s prize marks the second year in a row that a UH Mānoa English student has earned the prestigious award. In 2016, Jonathan Omuro was named a Portz Scholars. Both students were mentored by professor Cynthia Franklin.

Dobson will present her winning thesis titled “A Murmur in the Weeds: A Memoir,” at the NCHC conference in Atlanta in November. The work is described as an intensely personal portrait of sisterhood and survival.


“I knew I wanted to write my story since I was in high school, but it was always too painful to begin on my own,” said Dobson. “I studied English to be better equipped to handle the work of expressing my childhood experience someday. In my second semester at Mānoa, I took an autobiography class and wrote some difficult things. My professor, Dr. Franklin, suggested I make it into an honors thesis. I realized then that I didn’t have to begin on my own.”

Originally from Hawai‘i Island, Dobson is married and has five children. The recent UH Mānoa graduate now lives in Pearl City on O‘ahu and is starting a women’s writing group to help others journal and express stories of hardship and trauma.

“I’ll be forever grateful for the knowledge and genuine care of everyone who walked with me through the process: my mentor, Dr. Franklin; my thesis committee members, Professors Shawna Yang Ryan and Subramanian Shankar; English Program Director Dr. James Caron; and Dr. Vernadette Gonzalez, Honors Program director,” said Dobson. “All these wonderful people gave me invaluable guidance throughout this academic and personal journey.”


Dobson said she will complete her memoir but ultimately wants to write books for children and young adults.

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