Law student is third Yalie to win selective Gates Cambridge Scholarship

Alaa Hajyahia
Alaa Hajyahia

Yale Law School student Alaa Hajyahia will study anthropology at the University of Cambridge as the recipient of a prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarship. Hajyahia, an Israeli citizen, was chosen in the international round of the competition.

She joins two American citizens with Yale ties — Yale senior Jennifer Miao ’22 and alumna Maya Juman ’20 — who were selected in the U.S. round earlier this year.

Hajyahia, Miao, and Juman are among 79 students from around the world who will begin study at the world-class university in England this fall. Gates Cambridge Scholars receive full tuition toward their study and research in any subject at the University of Cambridge. The postgraduate scholarship program was established through a $210 million donation from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000. Scholars are chosen for the academic achievement and their desire to improve the lives of others.

Hajyahia said that her upbringing as a Palestinian woman and Muslim in Israel, and the “contradiction and tension” inherent in that life, has shaped her future goals.

This solidified my desire to be a scholar — steeped in anthropology and law — able to expose the deficiencies and marginalization endemic to Israeli society,” she said. “Anthropology has consistently helped me bring to light aspects of law otherwise hidden, realizing that where disciplines meet, legal research can better understand and broach social change. It is this passion for interdisciplinary research that has guided my academic journey from studying law, sociology, and anthropology at Tel Aviv University to completing my graduate studies at Yale Law School.

My Ph.D. seeks to enthnographically elucidate the relationship between the Israeli state, its legal institutions, and the Palestinian community at its margins. Through my research I aim to highlight the voices I feel are neglected in my educational and professional environments.”

Since the first class in 2001, the Gates Cambridge Foundation has awarded 2,081 scholarships to students from more than 600 universities and 111 countries. Recent awardees are studying subjects ranging from food security to bat reservoirs for viral diseases to how gut hormones control food intake and blood glucose levels.

We are delighted for Alaa, who won in the international Gates competition, and for Jennifer and Maya, who won in the U.S. Gates competition,” said Rebekah Westphal, assistant dean of Yale College and director of fellowships in the Yale Center for International and Professional Experience. “They have all been recognized for their strong commitment to improving the lives and others and for their exceptional academic work.”

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