45 Years of Fulfilling Dreams

Jiyoun Chung, middle, is working on her Doctor of Music Arts degree in Composition at the Conservatory of Music and Dance. GAF funded her travel to the Singapore Asian Composers Festival. Hazel Knutson, left, is a GAF donor.

The GAF helps women research and succeed

Zainab Albad’s 7-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son kept hugging their mother between conversations and speeches in the standing-room-only Grand Street event space.

The occasion, the UMKC Women’s Council 2016 Graduate Assistance Fund (GAF) Awards Reception, meant a lot to Albad and the 72 other UMKC female graduate and first-professional students who were recognized that evening.

“This award will support me in achieving my goal,” said Albad, who is studying for a master’s degree in chemistry. She aims to earn a PhD.

The Women’s Council is granting $96,129 in fellowships, the highest amount ever awarded in the 45 years of the GAF.

The GAF was established by the Women’s Council in 1971 to provide support for female students working toward post-baccalaureate degrees. In order to become key contributors to the local, national and global community, these women needed additional funding to help them conduct required research, travel to professional conferences to present their work and engage in educational opportunities beyond the classroom.

Current GAF recipient Deborah Keating is researching regional women’s roles in the resistance of African-American segregation prior to Brown vs. Board of Education. In her speech, she mixed humor with the gratitude she feels for the fellowship award.

“I love the academic experience, and the things I’m interested in are things people at a cocktail party pretend they’re interested in,” said Keating, who is working on an interdisciplinary PhD in history. “But in a classroom, people don’t have to pretend. They are interested.”

The GAF is a program supported by a grassroots donor pool. Women’s Council members and donors are passionate about the mission. To date, The GAF has assisted more than 1,900 women by providing more than $1.6 million in graduate fellowships.

“This shows me that women’s voices matter,” said Lindsey Quinn, a past GAF recipient in her speech. “It shows me that my ideas deserve recognition.”


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