In 1947, due to a continued housing shortage, Soroptimist International of Los decided to found a residential house in Los Angeles to help international students as well as be an international gesture of goodwill. As stated by club member Alida H. Dyson, “believing the hope of the world lives in education, our members have faith in the International House project. It will provide homelike atmosphere for a few of our own students and for some of the people from other countries taking courses here.” Until its closure in 1994, hundreds of students called the Soroptimist House home.
Marscha Scarbrough, writing for Mademoiselle Magazine College Board competition in 1967, said of the Soroptimist House: “Our version of cooperative living is a total education. There’s no escape… You must immerse yourself in the scholastics of the university, the experience of living with nine roommates, and the frightening unknowns of cooking and housecleaning. We learn a lot in our old brown house, and we love it.”
Frances Tepper, the Executive Director of NY Monroe County Fair and a Soroptimist House alumni said in an article published by USC in 2021 “I did anything I possibly could to earn money to stay in college. I was very fortunate that USC gave me a full-tuition scholarship after my first semester. Then I lived at the Soroptimist House, which enabled me to live on campus at $50 a month, and that included room and board. Without that, I don’t know what I would’ve done.”
Many of the Soroptimist House alumni have stayed close and in touch. At a recent reunion, fourteen women met – both in person and via zoom – to share stories and memories about their time at USC and in the House. Another reunion is to be planned in about two years – if you are a Soroptimist House alumni and would like to be invited, please contact us at email@example.com to be put in touch with the alumni group.
TV Screen – moving top left- Virginia Tan, top right, Sylvia Mowatt, second row left Stella Morabito, center Homai Madon, right Cyndy Haiden, bottom Shirley Ishizue. Seated, Top row, left to right Kathy Buttrey, MaryAnn Dacumos, Robyn Elliott, Vonette Yanaginuma, Teresa Luong, Bottom row, Linda Ackley, Mary Morabito.