Vision, Legacy and Innovative Partnership Provides a Gateway for Graduate Students at I-House


Bonnie Johnston (center) with scholarship recipients. Bonnie manages the Financial Aid program and considers it a “labor of love.”

For a dozen years, International House at UC Berkeley has been at the helm of a unique and innovative venture, The Gateway Fellowship Program. This unique partnership is between donors to I-House, the UCB Graduate Division and academic departments of UC Berkeley.

Seen as an opportunity to support top incoming graduate students from diverse backgrounds with financial need, and to compete for the best and the brightest to choose UC Berkeley, generous donors joined forces with I-House to establish endowment funds for this very purpose. With appreciation to these donors, the former deans of the Graduate Division and I-House staff, we are pleased to offer a competition for up to ten such fellowships for the 2015-2016 academic year.

Each January to February, academic department administrators are invited to nominate select graduate students for this competition.  As a gateway to a graduate student’s inaugural year at UC Berkeley, these generous and competitive fellowships clear a path for academic and social achievement in a new and often very different environment than one’s undergraduate experience. Gateway Fellows receive one academic year of a single room and board at I-House, one year of tuition and fees paid by the student’s academic department, and a $5,000 annual stipend paid by the Graduate Division. The nominee’s likelihood to benefit from, and contribute to life at I-House are factors considered by the committee, along with the goal of matching the priority preference of each fellowship agreement. Also considered in the competition is the student’s background, academic ranking, and financial need. I-House is the perfect venue to support and welcome graduate students from disparate backgrounds to this highly-ranked public university in this wonderful and diverse city. The majority of Gateway Fellowships are held as endowment funds and are dependent on earnings each year, while a few fellowships are term grants and funded annually.

John D. Rockefeller, Jr., who funded the physical facilities for I-House New York, Berkeley and Chicago, “envisioned a community of students of different nationalities and backgrounds living together in friendship, harmony and peace.” To carry out this vision and mission, the I-House scholarship program is a significant means to support socio-economic diversity, global perspectives and intercultural exchange.

The Rafael Rodriguez/Golden Age (RR/GA) Foreign Student Scholarship Fund, established in 1989, was a model for the Gateway Fellowships Program fourteen years later. The RR/GA was begun in 1989 with a fundraising campaign led and initiated by a handful of “Golden Agers” who were I-House residents during the period of 1946 – 1952. There was a desire amongst this group to establish a scholarship fund for a deserving international student and to honor their classmate, Rafael Lucas Rodriguez*. The late Rodriguez, a citizen of Costa Rica, “was a botanist, orchidist, artist, and wise friend of countless I-House co-residents and friends at UC Berkeley and Mills College.”

As up to ten graduate students will be the beneficiaries of these Gateway Fellowships this coming year, let us acknowledge the legacy of those who came before, as well as current generous supporters. Their financial commitment continues to make it possible that deserving students are able to be a part of this unique, diverse and robust community we call I-House Berkeley.

For more information on the Gateway Fellowships, visit the I-House Berkeley Financial Aid webpage:

*I-House residents may wish to view the display of Mr. Rodriguez’s botany paintings, many of which were selected for use on Costa Rican postage stamps. Visit the glass cabinet in the center of the I-House library.

About bonniejohnstonih

Having worked in Higher Education non-profits for many years, I'm pleased to be a part of the International House at UC Berkeley. I serve as executive assistant and financial aid coordinator.
This entry was posted in Faces of I-House, Life at I-House and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Vision, Legacy and Innovative Partnership Provides a Gateway for Graduate Students at I-House

  1. Pam Schallock says:

    It is a wonderful thing that these young people can experience the world by building relationships and having shared experiences with others whose cultures are different from their own. It will carry a lifetime of meaning and memories for them. Thanks to the generous donors who make it possible and to the staff who make it work so successfully.

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