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Rich Thigpen

On June 6, 2020, Circle K International (CKI) community lost an inspirational leader and mentor in Rich Thigpen.

Rich served as Faculty Advisor for UCLA Circle K for over ten years. Before Rich became UCLA Circle K Faculty Advisor, he was also a member of Circle K at Auburn University in the Alabama District where he served as an International Trustee from 1989-1990. Once he took a professional position at UCLA, his influence and impact in CKI grew even more. 

During his tenure as faculty advisor from 2006-2018, UCLA Circle K experienced success and growth unparalleled to its history as an organization. With his guidance, the club was able to dedicate thousands of volunteer service hours each year to local foundations and projects. He was able to advise board members in developing large-scale fundraisers and initiatives to support the local community.

His impact led the club to achieve a number of awards and accolades, with many members attributing their success to his guidance. Additionally, he truly supported members and personally donated to our fundraisers, whether or not it was affiliated with Circle K. He believed in us and our mission to create a better community.

What made Rich most unique was his commitment to building relationships with CKI members at UCLA and across the Cal-Nev-Ha District. This is evident in his willingness to reach out and mentor members at countless CKI events and programs he planned and attended. He also hosted numerous reunions and alumni events to sustain and strengthen the connections he made with members. Rich continued to create and cultivate a community of leaders to serve and advocate for others beyond their time with UCLA Circle K.

Rich Thigpen Memorial Scholarship

Organized by Jaymie Santiago with help from Suraj Patel, Stacey Ma, and Andy Ng

Rich Thigpen served as the UCLA Circle K Advisor from 2006-2018. Under his guidance, UCLA Circle K members grew to understand service as a way of life. Rich’s commitment to the three tenets of service, leadership and fellowship was indeed a lifelong one. He was actively involved in not only UCLA Circle K and Circle K International but also at his workplace, on campus, in his neighborhood and in the community. He inspired countless Circle K members to see service, leadership and fellowship as guiding principles for how they can achieve personal growth, pursue our dreams, connect with one another and give back.

Rich made an effort to build and maintain friendships with so many Circle K alumni. He was a warm and honest person. He offered his time and energy to dozens of causes, charities and foundations. He threw great parties and alumni reunions, always creating ways to connect with others. He was dedicated to using his skills and experiences to their full potential to improve the world around him and around us. He pushes you to be more engaged so that you can figure out what’s worth fighting for.

His sudden passing in June 2020 was a shock to everyone but we knew that we now needed to return the love and kindness we received from him.

The Rich Thigpen Memorial Scholarship commemorates Rich and his service to Circle K. 

The recipient of this scholarship should:
1) embrace service, leadership and fellowship as their way of life;
2) is passionate about service and community-building within and beyond Circle K;
3) creates opportunities for others to thrive, grow, learn, develop and succeed – like Rich did.

Scholarship Recipients:

2023: Anne Le (UC Santa Cruz)
2021: Ryan Tan (CSU Fullerton)

Rich Thigpen Faculty Advisor of the Year Award

Since 2021, this CNH District Award is named in honor of Rich Thigpen. 

UCLA CKI Alumni Meeting honoring Rich Thigpen – June 20, 2020

Hosted by Nguyet Tong, Brian Kan and Leonna Luc

Rich Thigpen Candlelight Vigil Service – June 14, 2020

Planning Committee