The Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowships For New Americans

04/13/2016 02:01 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

If you are reading this article, there is a 99% chance that your family immigrated to this country during the last 524 years. And they did so because there was an alluring freedom - opportunities that they were not able to pursue in whatever country they came from. Some spent weeks on ships to get to our part of the planet; some travelled by cars or buses; some travelled by airplanes; and others walked across our borders.

Instead of having their names on buildings, Paul and Daisy Soros committed their funds to young New Americans pursuing graduate school in the United States. They provide thirty fellowships per year; each fellow receives up to $90,000. Paul and Daisy have been doing this since 1997 - yet their fellowship program seems more relevant and necessary today than ever before.

So I would personally like to thank Paul and Daisy Soros for their commitment to three core values that make our country great: education, diversity, and opportunity.

And congratulations to the Class of 2016 Soros Fellows and thank you very much for your amazing contributions! (All photos by Chris Smith.)

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Aisha Saad, JD at Yale. Born in Egypt; came to the US at 6; BSPH/BA from UNC; studied at Oxford as Rhodes Scholar; assistant professor at the American University in Cairo; focused on environmental and corporate injustice.

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Abubakar Abid, PhD in electrical engineering at Stanford. Born in Pakistan; came to the US at 1; BS from MIT; building medical devices that provide real-time biomedical information for patient-specific diagnoses.

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Shadi Ghaheri, MFA in theater directing at Yale. Born in Iran; came to the US at 23; one of the first women to direct campus theater at her university in Tehran; focused on the untold stories of women.

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Daily Guerrero, JD at Columbia. Born in the Dominican Republic; came to the US at 6; AB from Harvard; Dominican student organizer and political advocate; pursuing a public interest career.

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Chidiebere Akusobi, MD/PhD in infectious disease at Harvard and MIT. Born in Nigeria; came to the US at 2; BS from Yale; MPhil in biochemistry as Gates Cambridge Scholar; Working Group on New TB Drugs Fellow.

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Binbin Chen, MD/PhD in genetics at Stanford. Born in China; came to the US at 18; BS from Georgia Tech; focused on bioinformatics tools to understand patient responses to immunotherapy.

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Heidi Vuletich, PhD in psychology at UNC. Born in Mexico; moved between Mexico and the US until she was 14; BS from Regis University; studying how socioeconomic class impacts academic motivation and achievement.

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Nairi Hartooni, PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology at UC San Francisco. Born in Iran to Armenian parents; came to the US at 6; BS from UC Berkeley; researching regulatory processes in cell division to improve cancer therapies.

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Iris Yirei Hu, MFA in visual arts at Columbia. Born in California to Taiwanese parents; BA from UCLA; writes and makes artwork to map the intersections of identity, community, imagination, and care.

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Du Cheng, MD/PhD in neuroscience Weill Cornell/Rockefeller/Sloan Kettering Tri-Institutional program. Born in China; came to the US at 20; BS from Humboldt State; developed tools to fight eye disease; studies how neural circuits generate behavior.

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Sharada Jambulapati, JD at UC Berkeley. Born to Indian parents; raised in rural Georgia; BA from Stanford; John Gardner Fellow at Southern Poverty Law Center; continuing civil rights advocacy in the South.

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Eric Chung, JD at Yale. Born to Chinese parents; grew up in Madison Heights, Michigan; AB from Harvard; focused on educational inequality; exploring how legal frameworks can improve social policy.

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Eran Hodis, MD/PhD in biophysics at Harvard and MIT. Born in Israel; grew up in Framingham, MA; BA from Boston University; studied computational biology at Weizmann Institute of Science; landmark research in cancer genomics.

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Akbar Hossain, JD at the University of Pennsylvania. Born in Bangladesh; raised in Saudi Arabia; came to the US at 9; BA from Franklin and Marshall; Truman Scholar; hopes to represent immigrant communities.

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Ania Jaroszewicz, PhD in behavioral decision research at Carnegie Mellon. Born in California to Polish parents; BA from UC Berkeley; researches decision-making to inform and improve poverty-alleviation and consumer protection policies.

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Zihao Jiang, PhD in physics at Stanford. Born in China; came to the US at 19 to attend the University of Chicago; researching elementary particles at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.

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Leen Katrib, MArch at Princeton. Born in the United Arab Emirates to Syrian and Lebanese parents; came to the US at 14; BArch from USC; researches immigrant and refugee suburbanization across the globe.

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Veronica Manzo, MD at Stanford. Born in California to Mexican parents in a family of farmworkers; AB from Harvard; brain cancer research published in Nature; pursuing a public health career.

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Denisse Rojas Marquez, MD at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Born in Mexico; came to the US at 1; BS from UC Berkeley; co-founded Pre-Health Dreamers for undocumented youth; working at intersection of immigration and health.

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Goran Micevic, MD/PhD in pathology at Yale. Born in Illinois; grew up in war-torn Yugoslavia; refugee of war at 12; BS from Iowa State University; award-winning cancer research; National Cancer Institute Fellow.

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Jenna Nicholas, MBA at Stanford. Born in New York to British and Iranian parents; raised in England; BA from Stanford; specializes in investments for social good; CEO of Phoenix Global Impact.

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Lindsey Osimiri, PhD in bioengineering at UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco. Born in Texas to Nigerian parents; BS from MIT; worked at Selventa, a systems biology consultancy; hopes to return to industry to make biological research more efficient.

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Akash Patel, JD at University of Michigan. Born in London to Indian parents; raised in Oklahoma; BA from University of Oklahoma; founded Aspiring Americans to assist other undocumented students.

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Suhas Rao, MD/PhD in biomedical science at Stanford. Born in Massachusetts to Indian parents; AB from Harvard; genomics research published in Cell and PNAS; created highest-resolution maps of 3D genome available to date.

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Aya Saed, JD/MPA at Harvard and Princeton. Born in Saudi Arabia to Sudanese parents; came to the US at 8; BA from UPenn; worked in Malaysia as a Luce Scholar; hopes to chalenge and shape national security policies.

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Mubeen Shakir, MD at Harvard. Born in Oklahoma to Indian Muslim parents; BS from the University of Oklahoma; studied at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar; hopes to work in health policy.

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Vishwajith Sridharan, MD/MBA at MIT and Harvard. Born in India; came to the US at 9; developed patented HIV vaccine model; BS from UNC; NSF-funded cancer research published in Molecular Cell.

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Durga Thakral, MD/PhD in genetics at Yale. Born in Illinois to Indian parents; combined BS/MS from Yale; researching in Richard Lifton's lab; discovered novel anti-bacterial compound; committed to STEM education for girls.

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Yuxi Tian, MD/PhD in biomathematics at UCLA. Born in Germany to Chinese parents; came to the US at 8; BA from UC Berkeley; hopes to use biomathematics to improve healthcare data analysis.

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Suan Lian Tuang, MD/PhD in chemistry at Harvard and MIT. Born in Burma to parents of the Zomi ethnic minority group; came to the US at 16; BS from MIT; Amgen Scholar; hopes to treat tropical diseases.