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Eight College Students Receive Soros Fellowships

By Maddie Sewani, Contributing Writer

UPDATED: May 6, 2013, at 1:03 a.m.

Harvard College students have received eight of the thirty 2013 Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans, which offer financial assistance to first- and second-generation immigrants pursuing graduate studies.

The program aims “to honor the American Immigrant Tradition—to remind people of the contributions immigrants have historically made—and to honor individuals who are clearly well-positioned to continue in that tradition,” Soros program director Stanley J. Heginbotham said.

The fellowship program seeks to identify students who show creativity, initiative, and innovation.

“Our view is that past is prologue,” said Heginbotham. “We look for students whose prior accomplishments demonstrate these qualities—students who have that spark, if you will.”

Students’ personal histories, families, opportunities, and challenges also factor into the selection process.

This year’s fellows were selected from a pool of over 1,050 applicants. Each Fellow will receive up to $90,000 in tuition and stipend assistance for graduate education in the United States.

Recipient Amrapali Maitra ’10 will use the fellowship to continue working towards an M.D. and a Ph.D. in anthropology at Stanford University. Maitra said she hopes to “mobilize her education and privilege” to help South Asian women facing violence in their homes and communities.

Fellow Vivek Viswanathan ’09, who will use the award to continue pursuing joint J.D. and M.B.A. degrees at Stanford University, said he aspires to make a difference in politics and to one day run for public office.

Viswanathan expressed gratitude for the support he received from Harvard professors and staff after graduating, citing recommendations from government professor Roger B. Porter, who supervised his thesis, and Kris Locke, a former program manager at the Harvard Bridge Center for his fellowship application.

Both Maitra and Viswanathan said they appreciate the way in which the program unites fellows.

“One of the primary reasons I applied for the fellowship was to meet a community of scholars similarly shaped by immigrant experiences,” said Maitra.

Viswanathan, who “is very excited to be part of the community,” said he is looking forward to convening with the 2012 and 2013 fellows in the fall.

Amar Bakshi ’06, Sangu J. Delle ’10, Senan Ebrahim ’12, Mariam O. Fofana ‘06, Ryaan Ahmed ’11 and Dayan “Jack” Li ’11 were the other recipients of the Soros fellowship from the College. Additionally, current Harvard law student Eva Bitran and medical school students Omar Abudayyeh, Dana Im, Wilfredo Matias, and Samsiya Ona were also named Soros fellows.

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