UMKC Women’s Council Celebrates 50 Years of Graduate Student Success

More than 2,000 women have received fellowships totaling more than $2 million

Amiben Ladhawala has been a teacher for 20 years and is working toward her doctorate degree in education. Funding through the UMKC Women’s Council Graduate Assistance Fund will enable Ladhawala to expand her research on how students’ experiences with trauma affect their behavior and ability to learn and the impact it has on teachers.

Lawhawala’s two decades of teaching have given her both experience and insight into the effects of trauma on students.

“When I was working as a special education teacher in an elementary school, I had so many incidents of students who had experienced trauma,” she says. “I worked hard to be a good teacher, but I didn’t know how to help these students.”

Lawhawala wanted to find resources that might help students who experienced trauma and their teachers.

“It was almost secondary trauma,” she says. “I would go home thinking about these students, how to help them, resources that might be available. I talked to other teachers, but I just felt helpless.”

She understands why some teachers may see these students as acting out or indifferent to learning. But she thinks that most teachers want to do a good job and most want to reach those students and help. Lawhawala received an award through the UMKC Women’s Council Graduate Assistance Fund that will allow her to continue her research and potentially improve the classroom experience of children who have experienced trauma and their teachers.

Since its inception in 1971, the UMKC Women’s Council has assisted more than 2,200 women by providing more than $2 million in graduate fellowships. This year, the council awarded more than $95,000 to 70 students.

“The UMKC Women’s Council are women supporting women!” Debbie Brooks (JD ’01), president of the council says. “We are proud of our students who remained undaunted by the Covid-19 pandemic and gracefully used their creativity to advance their research. These women did not allow the global disruption to negatively impact their studies.”

“The UMKC Women’s Council are women supporting women!” - Debbie Brooks, president of the UMKC Women’s Council

Brooks is a former GAF recipient and notes that many of the challenges she faced 20 years ago still exist today.

“We are still a patriarchal society. It can be difficult to complete your dream while you have a family. Many of our women students still have primary responsibility for child care. They are expected to be excellent partners, mothers, employees and students.”

The UMKC Women’s Council will celebrate half a century of supporting women in graduate studies and the 2021 awardees and their academic achievements with a virtual reception on March 11.

Established in 1971, the UMKC Women’s Council Graduate Assistance Fund fellowships support UMKC women working toward post-baccalaureate degrees with up to $2,000 in funds that furthers their completion of graduation requirements and enriches their educational experiences. 

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