Humphrey Fellows to speak on international perspectives on women in society

February 05, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A panel discussion titled “International Perspectives on Women in Society,” presented by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and featuring three Penn State Humphrey Fellows, will be conducted virtually from 6-7:30 p.m. Feb. 25.

Mekdes Abera, May Zin Oo and Maria Rendon are three of 10 Humphrey Fellows at Penn State this semester as part of the College of Education’s Humphrey Fellowship Program, a one-year, non-degree program of combined academic and professional development opportunities for mid-career professionals from designated countries of Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean and the Middle East.

Abera is the dean of students at St. Mary’s University in Ethiopia; Oo is a professor at Mandalay Technological University in Myanmar; and Rendon is an administrator at National University of Honduras.

Joining AAUW in hosting the panel discussion are Altrusa International Centre County; Community Diversity Group; Penn State Humphrey Fellows; and Soroptimist International of Centre County. The panel will be moderated by AAUW State College member Charlene Harrison.

To register for the event, click here; those who register will receive a confirmation email about how to join the meeting.

Each of the Humphrey Fellows who plan to speak, said being a part of the fellowship program is a dream come true.


Mekdes Abera

IMAGE: Penn State

“The experience that I will gain from the Humphrey fellowship program through professional and leadership development, professional affiliations and networking, and working with American-based institution will highly impact my personal, professional and societal contributions,” said Abera. 

Abera works in higher education in Ethiopia and said she would share her research findings on women's leadership in Ethiopian universities during the presentation. Her interests are international and comparative education, early childhood education, education policy, higher education administration and multiculturalism.

Abera said she would look for every opportunity to get the most out of her time in the Humphrey Fellows program at Penn State. 

“I hope I will try to grasp the best experiences on how American universities are working toward students learning and how the skills like the 21st-century skills are inculcated in the teaching-learning, research and community engagements and capitalize it in the existing institutional and educational platforms at St. Mary's University and beyond,” she said. 

“However, the issue of COVID-19 is a challenge; I hope things will get improved and will have access to share these experiences in the actual context.”


May Zin Oo

IMAGE: Penn State

Oo said she plans to discuss employment in the education in Myanmar, the largest country in mainland Southeast Asia, and wants to obtain additional skills in her professorial role. She wants to learn more about U.S. higher education administration, university autonomy, governance systems and improve her communication skills.

“I am sure I will have more knowledge on higher education administration and organization, research design regarding with social science and kind of soft skills like time management, teamwork foundation, handling difficult situations and so on, which are very essential to leading my organization,” Oo said.

Rendon, whose interests include best practices and online management models of higher education, noted that not only is she pleased to be part of the Humphrey Fellows, but it’s an honor for her to represent not only her country of Honduras but the entire Latin America region.


Maria Rendon

IMAGE: Penn State

“This program is allowing me to have access to training, knowledge and best international practices in different topics for my professional development, but the most important part for me is be immersed in U.S. culture and learn a lot from other fellows from around the world. I’m so thankful. This experience is a gift,” she said.

Rendon added that the training she will receive within the Humphrey Fellows program is not commonplace in Honduras, and she would like to help train all personnel in her department at National University of Honduras about teamwork.

“And through my work with the strategic planning process, give a vision not just to the office but to all my colleagues and co-workers,” she said.

To learn more about the Penn State Humphrey Fellows program, click here.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated February 05, 2021