UH Hilo English major Savannah Directo receives the 2018 Matthew Somchai Therrien Memorial Award

The flash fiction writer is a graduate of Keaʻau High School and intends to become a high school teacher in English.

Savannah Directo
Savannah Directo

Savannah Directo is the 2018 recipient of the $500 Matthew Somchai Therrien Memorial Award, which is given to an outstanding student at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo majoring in English. Directo is a 2016 graduate of Keaʻau High School and is pursuing a bachelor of arts in English and a creative writing certificate. When she fist arrived at UH Hilo, she was awarded a UH Hilo Chancellor’s Scholarship, a prestigious award created for graduates from Hawaiʻi high schools that covers four years of tuition.

Directo enjoys writing and intends to become a high school teacher in English. A prolific reader, she enjoys fantasy fiction, in particular the works of Ursula le Guin and J. R. R. Tolkien. In her own writing she prefers flash fiction, because, she says, “it allows you to tell a whole story in a few words, which is challenging, but also fun.”

Directo maintains a 4.0 grade point average and is a creative writer. Her poetry and short stories are published in Kanilehua: UH Hilo Art and Literary Magazine in the spring and fall 2017 issues. Her publications include the short stories “Cleaning Up,” “The Legendary Letter,” and “Indigo Heart,” as well as the poem “My Strange Real Name.” Directo also is president of the Lion Tribe Club, a student organization at UH Hilo.

Upon entering UH Hilo, Directo became part of a Living Learning Community cohort specializing in creative arts. The program houses cohorts of incoming first year students together according to similar interests and career goals. Students support each other in their studies and work alongside a faculty members in their chosen field of interest. Under the guidance of Professor of Art Michael Marshall, Directo did community service at arts events in downtown Hilo.

The Matthew Somchai Therrien Memorial Award

Matthew S. Therrien was an aspiring English major at UH Hilo at the time of his tragic death in a car accident on April 6, 2014. He was a gifted poet and writer with a dream of becoming an English professor. The Matthew Somchai Therrien Memorial Award was initiated by a generous donation made by Stephen and Gloria Gainsley, longtime friends of the Therrien family. The $500 annual award recognizes an outstanding UH Hilo student majoring in English.

The recipient of the Matthew S. Therrien Memorial Award must be an English major and must have demonstrated academic merit with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher. The awardee must also have demonstrated excellence in writing, preferably through published work.

Directo is the fourth recipient of the award.

Previous recipients

UH Hilo English major Kylee Sullivan receives 2017 Matthew Somchai Therrien Memorial Award

UH Hilo English major Ariel Moniz awarded scholarship for excellence in writing

Kara Nelson receives first Matthew Somchai Therrien Memorial Award