Ten Yalies receive Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans

Yale students or alumni comprise 10 of the 30 recipients of 2017 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans, a graduate school fellowship for immigrants and children of immigrants in the United States.

Selected from 1,775 applicants, the recipients were chosen for their potential to make significant contributions to U.S. society, culture, or their academic fields, and will receive up to $90,000 in funding for the graduate program of their choice. Hungarian immigrants Daisy M. Soros and Paul Soros (1926-2013) founded the program in 1997.

The winners are

Mayesha Alam (Bangladesh), Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Mayesha Alam co-founded the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security, which she dedicated herself to for five years. She has also worked with the United Nations, the World Bank, and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. Her 2014 book, “Women and Transitional Justice: Progress and Persistent Challenges in Retributive and Restorative Processes,” was inspired by her work at the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission of Kenya and by her parents’ experiences surviving the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War. Alam is now pursuing a Ph.D. in political science at Yale University. (Read full bio.)

Lorenzo Sewanan (Suriname), School of Medicine/School of Engineering & Applied Science

Lorenzo Rakesh Sewanan attended Hillcrest High School in Jamaica, Queens, for two years and then Trinity College as a QuestBridge College Match Scholar. He majored in physics and mechanical engineering with a minor in writing and rhetoric. He was awarded the Barry Goldwater Scholarship for his research on intervertebral disk biomechanics in the lab of Nadeen Chahine at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research. Now at the Yale School of Medicine, Sewanan is pursuing a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering and an M.D. in its joint medical scientist training program. (Read full bio.)

Estefania Puerta (Colombia), School of Art

Art made Estefania Puerta, who was undocumented, feel she could be whoever she wanted to be; she did not need a green card to write a poem or paint a painting. After high school, Puerta pursued a degree in community and international development at the University of Vermont. Since graduating from college, Puerta has become a U.S. citizen. With the newly found privilege of citizenship, she is committed to ensuring others are given the same encouragement and support she was given while living in the shadows. Puerta has finally been able to follow her dream of being an artist. She is currently pursuing her M.F.A. in painting and printmaking at the Yale School of Art. (Read full bio.)

Joseph Augusto Guimaraes (Brazil), School of Music

Joseph A. Guimaraes is currently a master’s student at the Yale School of Music. He received his bachelor’s degree in tuba performance from Lynn University’s Conservatory of Music. He has most recently been accepted as the principal tubist of such festivals as the Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo, Japan, the Chautauqua Music Festival in New York, and the AIMS Festival Orchestra in Graz, Austria. In 2015 Guimaraes launched his company, The Valve Beanie. He also founded the Mouthpieces For All Initiative, whose mission is to donate musical tools to empower and engage underserved children through the performing arts. (Read full bio.)

Roxana Moussavian(Iran), Law School

Roxana Moussavian is an entrepreneur, policy adviser, and storyteller. While studying the modern Middle East and math at the University of Pennsylvania, she co-founded a nonprofit that helps high-potential students from around the world obtain a quality education by connecting them directly with donors. After graduation, she joined the Obama administration, where she worked for four years. In 2015 Moussavian left the White House to pursue her own storytelling project. She traveled across the United States to interview people who overcame significant socioeconomic challenges, thanks in part to some of the policies she had previously worked on. Moussavian is currently studying at Yale Law School. (Read full bio.)

Matthew Nguyen (Vietnam), Law School

During college at the University of California-Berkeley, Matthew Nguyen championed minority voting rights in North Carolina with President Obama’s reelection campaign, provided rehabilitation services to homeless veterans and at-risk youth, and rallied global support for Ebola victims and Syrian refugees through the U.S. Mission to the European Union. He also analyzed climate and urban policies at the University of Oxford, founded an education seminar at the Goldman School of Public Policy, and researched workforce development under Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm. Nguyen currently attends Yale Law School and manages the Yale Law & Policy Review, facilitates an education law course, represents Asian American law students, and advocates for underserved youth through the Education Adequacy Project. (Read full bio.)

Mariana Olaizola (Venezuela), Law School

Mariana Olaizola graduated from Princeton University where she studied political theory and piano performance. She spent more than two years traveling in Myanmar to areas inaccessible to the general public, gathering stories from populations caught in ethnic violence and writing reports read by senior members of the Burmese government. Having arrived in Myanmar as a volunteer piano teacher with a vague mission of public service, Olaizola left with a plan to master the law and build a career addressing this injustice. As a legal director of the International Refugee Assistance Project chapter at Yale Law School, Olaizola coordinates outreach and manages students’ legal work in support of refugees. (Read full bio.)

Uzoma Orchingwa (Nigeria), Law School

After completing his undergraduate studies at Colby College, Uzoma Kenneth Orchingwa pursued a master’s degree at the University of Cambridge as a Gates Scholar, focusing on reexamining the history of U.S. penal policy in pursuit of novel solutions. In England he connected with innovators and aspiring political actors, which affirmed his commitment to a pragmatic and intellectual approach to social progress. Currently, Orchingwa is working as a researcher at Yale Law School and is involved in various projects in the city of New Haven, Connecticut. Uzoma will begin at Yale Law School in the fall of 2017. (Read full bio.)

Xuan Hong Thi Tran (Vietnam), Law School

In 2010, after a life-changing scholarship in Singapore, Xuan Hong Thi Tran came to the United States to attend college. After graduation, she helped immigrants appeal their deportation rulings at the Federal Immigration Appeals Project. She served with Immigrant Justice Corps, the first immigration law fellowship in the nation, where she represented hundreds of low-income New Yorkers in their immigration applications. Since the fall of 2016, she has been advocating for educational justice for students of color and immigrant students in Metro Detroit with the ACLU’s local units and the Syrian American Rescue Network. Xuan graduated from Yale University with a degree in religious studies. She is returning to Yale to pursue a J.D. (Read full bio.)

Sanjena Sathian (India), Yale College alumna

Sanjena Anshu Sathian earned a B.A. in English from Yale University, where she served as editor-in-chief of the Globalist magazine. She received multiple grants to report from three continents, writing about striking Chilean miners, Nepali Gurkha soldiers in training, and the conflict zone in Cyprus. After school, Sathian worked as a health reporter for the Boston Globe before joining the media start-up OZY. At OZY, she wrote widely, covering the unseen mobile home economy, the ethical implications of artificial intelligence, and the boom in Asian American retirement communities. In 2015 she moved to India, where she investigated the rise of Hindu nationalism, cattle-smuggling rings on the Indo-Bangladesh border, and the rise of a new street drug in Mumbai. Sathian says she is thrilled to begin study at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, the same institution that educated Flannery O’Connor. (Read full bio.)

More information about awards can be found at the Soros Fellowship website.

Campus & Community

International