Harvard students have claimed 10 of the 30 spots for this year’s Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans, which provide financial assistance to immigrants or children of immigrants who are pursuing graduate studies.
Multiple fellowship recipients said they felt exceptionally lucky and grateful to be afforded the opportunity.
“[The Soros Fellowship] is a wonderful way to highlight the achievements of immigrants and shows how much they have and can contribute to the progress of the nation,” said Harvard Medical School student Melis N. Anahtar, who won the fellowship. “Immigration is beneficial and we need to protect it.”
Stanley J. Heginbotham, co-director at the Soros program, echoed Anahtar’s sentiments and emphasized the importance of helping to advance immigrants in their chosen career paths.
“The fellowship honors the immigrant tradition and promotes the leadership of new Americans in all types of subjects,” Heginbotham said.
He added that Harvard is a “wonderful source” of fellowship recipients every year.
The fellowship looks for students who display creativity, initiative, and originality in any academic field. Heginbotham explained that when selecting recipients, reviewers consider the candidates’ radically different backgrounds, accomplishments, and visions.
Unlike Anahtar, who is the daughter of parents who immigrated from Turkey, recipient Carlos G. Torres is himself an immigrant. Torres, a first year student at the Medical School, moved to the U.S. from Mexico at the age of 10.
He explained that growing up in a new country was challenging in many ways, from being submerged in a completely different culture to not knowing the language. Living in an urban, Latino neighborhood in Milwaukee, Wis. with a lack of role models in professional fields, Torres said he was indirectly motivated to aspire to become a leader and a professional.
“Most importantly, [this fellowship] creates a group of new American leaders from many different fields, giving us all access to such an amazing academic community,” Torres said.
Paul and Daisy Soros, Hungarian immigrants, created the Fellowship for New Americans in 1998 in order to recognize the accomplishment and promise of young new Americans. During the 14 years of its existence, the Soros Fellowship has given 415 awards to students pursuing graduate work and has spent $33 million in support of fellows to date. The award gives its recipients up to $50,000 in cash grants and up to $40,000 in tuition support for two years.