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In an interview, Barack Obama referred to his mother as "the dominant figure in my formative years ...
In 1948, they moved to Ponca City, Oklahoma, and from there to Vernon, Texas, and then to El Dorado, Kansas.
In 1955, the family moved to Seattle, Washington, where her father was employed as a furniture salesman and her mother worked as vice president of a bank.
In 1971, she sent the young Obama back to Hawaii to attend Punahou School starting in 5th grade rather than having him stay in Indonesia with her.
A year later, in August 1972, Dunham and her daughter moved back to Hawaii to rejoin her son and begin graduate study in anthropology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
Towards the latter part of her life, she worked with Bank Rakyat Indonesia, where she helped apply her research to the largest microfinance program in the world.
After her son was elected President, interest renewed in Dunham's work: the University of Hawaii held a symposium about her research; an exhibition of Dunham's Indonesian batik textile collection toured the United States; and in December 2009, Duke University Press published Surviving against the Odds: Village Industry in Indonesia, a book based on Dunham's original 1992 dissertation.
Dunham's parents sought business opportunities in the new state, and after graduating from high school in 1960, Dunham and her family moved to Honolulu.
Dunham soon enrolled at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa.
Janny Scott, an author and former New York Times reporter, published a biography about Ann Dunham's life titled A Singular Woman in 2011.
Posthumous interest has also led to the creation of The Ann Dunham Soetoro Endowment in the Anthropology Department at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, as well as the Ann Dunham Soetoro Graduate Fellowships, intended to fund students associated with the East–West Center (EWC) in Honolulu, Hawaii.