Friends of the International Center at UCSD host scholarship dinner


By Ashley Mackin

The Friends of the International Center at UC San Diego continued their tradition of hospitality and academic support and awarded more than 50 scholarships to International Center students at their annual dinner on May 21. The FIC is a support and hospitality group for students attending UCSD from overseas, and for students planning to travel and study abroad.

At the dinner, students mingled with each other, their friends and families, and faculty and staff. “It’s a very nice informal, but structured mix of different generations and people from different backgrounds and different positions, getting together,” said FIC founder Ruth Newmark, chair of the scholarship committee.

The FIC selection committee received more than 200 applications for scholarships. “All of our scholarship recipients are academic achievers, and then we pick on the basis of things other than academics, like volunteer work or that they have an outlook we feel would well represent us, the university and the United States,” she said.

The scholarship money is mostly raised through the FIC Resale Shop, and UCSD matches most of what FIC earns. Volunteers staff the Resale Shop, which is open to the public, and many volunteers are the spouses of international students.

“These are women who may be professionals in their own right, but who do not have the necessary permit to work in the United States,” Newmark said. “These young women volunteer in our shop to meet people and practice their English. Shoppers find these interactions equally rewarding, and some of the faithful often stop in simply to chat.”

The store sells clothing, accessories, small household goods, books and gifts. Newmark said while she is glad people shop at the resale boutique, the people who are most grateful are the students.

Upon learning of her scholarship, Soracha Thamphiwatana, a Ph.D. candidate in nano-engineering said, “By awarding me the Friends Scholarship, you have lightened my financial burden, which allows me to focus more on my research. Your generosity has inspired me to help students achieve their goals, just as you have helped me.”