Maria Duan ’27
Working in college has long been one of my goals, as I’m sure it has been for many others. It’s one of the ultimate shows of growing up, taking responsibility, and feeling adult. As someone who has gone to school in the US for almost a decade while being a “nonresident alien,” I had always been aware of the extra paperwork and processes that would come with working at Scripps. What I hadn’t foreseen was the sheer lack of support from the administration during the process.
Before the pandemic, there was a resource called International Place, funded by all the 7Cs, that provided extensive support to international students as well as a physical hub for gatherings and events. The resource was dissolved during the pandemic year, presumably to cut costs.
Furthermore, Scripps has yet to find someone to fill the role of International Student Coordinator after Ge-Yao Liu resigned in the Spring of 2022. Currently, Dr. Marissiko Wheaton-Greer, Assistant Dean and SCORE Director, oversees the social events and other kinds of internal support while Kelly Hogencamp works as both a full-time Registrar employee and the Designated School Official (DSO). Elba Mandujano, Assistant Director of SCORE, also oversaw the International Student pre-orientation this year. Ideally, the International Student Coordinator would be responsible for the additional responsibilities all three administrators currently take on.
This year, with the combined effects of Wheaton-Greer being on leave, no International Place, and no International Coordinator, the resources Scripps has been able to offer for international students have been significantly limited.
For international students, a major step that comes with working in college is obtaining a Social Security Card. After receiving a job offer, the student may begin collecting documents for the application. Of these supporting documents, two can only be obtained from the school. One is an official employment offer letter from the direct employer and the other is a letter from the school, usually signed by Hogencamp.
I went to the Social Security Number (SSN) Office immediately after meeting with Hogencamp, as advised. Upon glancing at my official employment offer letter, the government worker informed me that I needed a wet signature. I was confused what that even was. Turns out, it just means that my employment offer letter didn’t have a penned signature. My direct employer had sent me a PDF of this document, and unbeknownst to either of us, it was inadequate.
I had no choice but to leave empty-handed. How could such a small detail be so integral? To add insult to injury, a group of international students from Pomona College had been there at the same time as me, accompanied by someone presumably from their international office. They had arrived a little while before me, so I got a front-seat view of their successful appointments.
After emailing around and getting another employment offer letter, very clearly wet-signatured, I was back at the SSN office the next day. I remember holding my breath when the government worker said, “this doesn’t match your passport name,” referring to one of my Scripps letters. For a split second, my mind raced. Did Hogencamp put my preferred name instead of my legal one? Will I have to come back for a third time?
Thankfully, I successfully turned in my SSN application this time. Though the letter used my preferred name, my legal name was still in it. Had I gotten a less understanding government worker, I probably would have been turned away again.
Why weren’t these details caught earlier? Why had no one told me about the technicalities beforehand? Rectifying things like wet signatures and name changes immediately fell upon me, even though I was not the one writing these documents.
This year, without International Place and a stable International Student Coordinator, Scripps has overlooked its international students. While there are still events and programs being put on for international students within Scripps and the 5Cs, there have been no organized efforts to help them otherwise. Important trips like going to the SSN office, or even to cell service stores to get new phone numbers or banks to start new accounts, are significantly more complicated without logistical assistance, such as transportation to the location or making sure all documents meet the requirements.
International Place will probably remain a thing of the past, but there is still hope for a new addition to the SCORE office. As Scripps works to hire a qualified and motivated individual to help international students, we can only hope that in future years, Scripps will become better at supporting its international students.