The innovative Gateway Scholarship Program brings promising grad students to Cal and to I-House. Financial aid is especially crucial now with 30% increases in student fees resulting from severe cuts in state funding for UC. Chancellor Berdahl has made financial aid for incoming graduate students one of his highest priorities.

 

 

 

 

 

"International House is a continuing and successful experiment, in the recognition of diversity, in the creative use of diversity, and in the governance of diversity."

--George Shultz,
former US Secretary of State

House Partners With Graduate Division To Offer Gateway Scholarships

Gateway Scholarship recipients at Sunday Supper. From left: Onur Filiz from Turkey, Giovanni Gonzalez from Guatemala, Carolynn Roncaglia from the U.S., and Sener Akturk from Turkey.

It's a long way from Snuffy's General Store to the International House. Three thousand miles and a gigantic economic divide, in fact. But Raymond Orr made the journey, and today the native of Price's Fork, Virginia, (total local business: Snuffy's and a gas station) is a Ph.D. candidate in international political science.

Mirian Lee's ancestors are from Korea, but her identity is Brazilian. A fifth-generation Sao Paolan and the first of her family to attend graduate school, she is fascinated by the beautiful poetry and immigrant stories of her birthplace, and is working on a doctorate in Portuguese and Brazilian studies.

In Bogotá, Colombia, graduating from high school is unusual. It's even more unusual to go on to Berkeley to study political ecology under renowned professor Michael Watts. Yet, now Alejandro Guarín is here, doing as he says, "exactly what I wanted to do in exactly the right place."

These diverse students have two things in common: they are all gifted Ph.D. candidates who have received full scholarships for room and board at I-House plus University tuition awards for their first year of graduate study. And they all say they couldn't be here otherwise.

"This full scholarship package of tuition, room, and board brings some of the world's most promising graduate students to our International House community and to Cal," says Executive Director, Joe Lurie. "The I-House and Graduate Division Gateway Scholarship Program represents an unprecedented partnering of resources."

This new scholarship opportunity comes at a time when severe cuts to state funding for UC led to student fee increases of 30% this year with additional increases under consideration for 2004-05. Many of the scholarship recipients come from international and U.S. backgrounds that are underrepresented at Cal.

Joe Lurie first proposed the scholarship pilot program to Graduate Dean Mary Ann Mason in 1999. After a successful pilot program, the I-House Board decided to include a scholarship endowment in the 75 th Anniversary Capital Campaign to endow the I-House component of the Gateway Scholarships. The goal is to fund 25 annual awards. Named endowments for each annual award are $200,000 for the academic year, $250,000 to include a summer stay at I-House, and $300,000 to cover summer expenses and a modest stipend.

A recent bequest from the estate of alumna Virginia Anna Gilloon will help initiate the overall endowment, pending Board approval.

"It was clear that there are some very promising students who get accepted at Cal, but who don't even get a chance to start because they don't have the resources," says Lurie. "And even if they receive tuition and fee awards from the University, they can't manage room and board expenses."

"There's no way I would be here without the scholarship," says Giovanni Gonzalez. "I couldn't have afforded to accept. I have four brothers and undergraduate loans." A native of Guatemala whose family emigrated to Los Angeles, Gonzalez received the departmental citation in mechanical engineering in his senior year at Berkeley, and is now here for his Ph.D. in the same field.

For the 2003-2004 academic year, the fellowships were granted to nine first-year doctoral students: five from the United States and four from overseas. All say, without exception, that the fellowships made the difference between enjoying the I-House experience while pursuing their doctorates, and not being able to attend Berkeley at all.

"It absolutely made all the difference," says Ornur Filiz, an industrial engineering student from Istanbul, Turkey. He was offered a graduate scholarship from an Eastern college, but wasn't comfortable with the school's lack of diversity. "Berkeley and the I-House are an amazing place. I've already made friends from Sri Lanka and Germany. The range of experiences is a great way to learn."

Besides their academic achievements, the recipients bring a huge range of interests and cultural backgrounds to the I-House. Orr has traversed Native American reservations; Guarín wants to tackle global environmental problems; and Gonzalez, when not immersed in applied math, can usually be found teaching salsa dancing in the I-House auditorium. "That's part of the reason why," Lurie says, "we strongly feel that every scholarship we grant is an investment that is paid back to the University by students who, in turn, enrich us, academically and culturally." Chancellor Berdahl has made financial aid for incoming graduate students one of his highest priorities.

The feeling is reciprocated. "I'm very honored and thankful for the grant; I don't know how I'd be here without it," says Mirian Lee. "One day I'll give back to the fund."

To learn more about the financial aid endowment, contact I-House Development Director, Shanti Corrigan, at (510) 642-4128 or e-mail shanti@uclink.berkeley.edu


Online edition of the alumnus newsletter of International House
© 2003 International House