“Hunter opened the doors to America for me.” Those words of Eva Kastan Grove ’58, who was 18 when she arrived in the United States, could easily be spoken by any of Hunter’s immigrant students. And thanks to the $9 million Eva Kastan Grove Scholarship and Internship Endowment Fund, given by the Grove family to celebrate Eva’s 80th birthday, Hunter can open many more doors.
Of the total, $4 million will go to Roosevelt House to establish a scholars program and support student activities and programs in public policy and human rights.
The $5 million balance will go toward scholarships and internships, with a preference to students who are immigrants, the children of immigrants, or are undocumented. Such funding can be life-changing for Dreamers, undocumented immigrants brought here as children. “Because they exist in a kind of legal limbo, the Dreamers aren’t eligible for government help,” says President Jennifer J. Raab, “but the Grove scholarships lend a hand that government can’t.”
In 1954, Eva Kastan came from Bolivia, where her family had found refuge from the Nazis. She embraced New York and her new school, graduating with a degree in pre-social work. While her husband, Andy Grove, who died in March, became CEO of the Intel Corp., Eva became a voice for people in need. “She worked for Consumers Union,” says her daughter Robie Spector, a member of the Hunter College Foundation Board of Trustees. “She worked for Planned Parenthood, and she worked with reading groups.”
As her mother’s big birthday grew near, Spector approached her father. “I said, ‘Is it possible that we could honor this place that had such an influence on her sense of community?’ Hunter was part of our family narrative. For instance, Roosevelt House was their lunch place; they would eat their pumpernickel sandwiches there. It meant enough to her that I knew about it when I was a child.”
One grateful Grove Scholarship beneficiary is Safia Mahjbin ’20, a freshman majoring in Chinese language and philosophy and minoring in human rights who is originally from Bangladesh. “My first semester at Hunter was starting off great,” she says, “but then all of a sudden my parents didn’t want to pay my tuition anymore—they’re very traditional and they wanted me to get married—and I was worried I would have to drop out.”
Instead she moved out on her own, got a job that required her to spend eight hours on her feet, packing up to 500 box meals for delivery, and went to Hunter full-time. Then, among other awards, came the Grove scholarship, allowing her to give up her minimum-wage job. She has since moved into a Hunter dorm, and the future looks very bright. “The scholarship will take care of my tuition,” she says.