back to results Back

How a Lifelong Love Inspired Life-Changing Gifts

A woman wearing a red sweater stands on a high point with a panoramic view, behind and below her, of the ocean, a beach, a road and a green forest.
Gifts of fellowship support allow UCLA graduate students to deepen their educations and launch their careers.

Donors give to UCLA for all kinds of reasons. Some support a favorite field of study. Others give back to the community. Still others honor the people they loved. For double Bruin and longtime UCLA supporter Hojat J. Rostami, all of these are true.

In 1961, Hojat was doing research in the UCLA Physics library when he had an encounter that would change his life — he met a clerk named Antonia Haro, a student in the School of Education. Their chance meeting began a relationship that blossomed into a beautiful fifty-year marriage.

So it’s easy to understand why UCLA holds a special place in Hojat’s heart.

After completing an M.S. in physics at the University of Michigan, Hojat pursued an M.S. and then a Ph.D. in biostatistics at the Fielding School of Public Health. He first served as a statistician in medical schools and the aerospace industry. Later, he became a biostatistician at Pharmacia Corporation and Pfizer.

Antonia, meanwhile, was a dedicated educator who applied her B.A. in Spanish and her Teaching English as a Second Language Certificate to her work as a language instructor for graduate students. As Hojat was born in Iran and arrived in the United States with a limited ability to speak English, he especially valued the contribution his wife made to the world.

When Antonia passed away in 2012, Hojat wanted to find a way to honor her memory. In 2018, he established the Antonia H. Rostami Fellowship Fund. This fund has helped numerous students obtain their graduate degrees in education.

Tunette Powell was able to earn her Ph.D. with the support of this fellowship and is one step closer to fulfilling her dream of becoming the U.S. Secretary of Education. “I hope you know that when you invested in me, you invested in my children, my community and my future, because I’m going to give it all back,” she said.

Tonia Guida, another beneficiary of the Rostami Fellowship, also graduated with a Ph.D. and is now an assistant dean and professor of instruction at the University of Texas at Austin.

Yet another fellowship recipient, Jovanee Castrejón, a first-generation student, was able to study full time thanks to the support he received. He graduated with a master’s degree and is now a high school teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

These and other student success stories inspired Hojat to go even further with his UCLA philanthropy.

In 2023, he established a new pledge from his estate in the amount of five hundred thousand dollars to create the Antonia H. Rostami Memorial Fellowship Fund in the Division of Graduate Education to support graduate students in the departments of Spanish and English.

“Antonia and I always wanted to help students, so establishing fellowships in her memory is very important to me,” Hojat said.

In addition to supporting UCLA students, Hojat funds scholarships at Western Michigan University (where Antonia taught); provides food for families through Loaves and Fishes; helps the Portage Library in Michigan develop their collection of books in Mandarin, Spanish and Arabic; and purchases new shoes for elementary school students at the start of every school year.

Now in his sixth decade of giving, Hojat explained the especially poignant role that philanthropy currently plays in his life.

“On my next birthday, I will be 90 years old. Being a statistician, I can safely predict that the years left in my life are limited,” he said. “I want to help as many people as I can, and I am lucky to have the means to do so. I don’t know if my story can inspire others, but I really hope it does.”

To learn more, contact

Michelle Chang310-486-7740

One woman wearing a peach suit and dark brown hair piled atop her head smiles directly at the camera.

Tunette Powell, Ph.D. ’20 credits the Antonia H. Rostami Fellowship with helping her pursue her dream of serving as U.S. Secretary of Education.

One woman wearing a navy graduation cap and gown smiles as she stands in front of the balustrade of a red brick building on the UCLA campus.

After graduating with a Ph.D. from the UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Science with the support of the Rostami Fellowship, Tonia Guida joined the faculty at the University of Texas at Austin.

A man wearing a black graduation cap and gown and a royal blue sash smiles as he stands in a grassy clearing with multiple leafy trees behind him.

The Rostami Fellowship made it possible for first-generation student Jovanee Castrejón to fully commit his time to a master’s degree program.

A man with white hair, a white beard and rimless glasses, and wearing a gray suit and patterned maroon tie, smiles into the camera.

A UCLA donor since 1975, Hojat Rostami’s most recent gifts provide fellowship support in honor of his late wife, Antonia, who taught English to Western Michigan University graduate students from foreign countries.

More Stories: The College, Students, Students & campus, School of Education & Information Studies