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Three Iranian-Americans named Soros Fellows


Thirty-One Exceptional "New Americans" Are Named Soros Fellows For 2007

Three Iranian-Americans, Shelli Farhadian, K. Cyrus Habib and Keyan Salari, are among thirty-one finalists in the tenth annual competition for the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans.

K. Cyrus Habib

Shelli Farhadian

Keyan Salari

The program was established in 1997 by Paul and Daisy Soros of New York as a charitable trust of fifty million dollars to support graduate study by New Americans - immigrants and children of immigrants. From over 800 applications representing 141 national origins and 360 colleges and universities, the thirty-one were selected for the two-year fellowships by panels composed of New Americans.


NEW YORK, NY, February 15, 2007- Assisting immigrants and their children to prepare for opportunities for leadership in their various fields in the United States is the mission of the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship program for New Americans.  Today, Warren F. Ilchman, Director of The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships, announced that the program's Board of Trustees had approved thirty-one extraordinarily accomplished young people - all of them immigrants to the United States or the children of immigrants - to become Soros Fellows for 2007, in the program's tenth year of competition. These awards bring the total of Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships to over 290. The Soros Fellows were chosen from over 800 applicants from 257 undergraduate and 150 graduate institutions. Said Ilchman: "If you need evidence that immigrants contribute positively to the quality of American life, you need only look at the achievements of our Soros Fellows."


Selected for this honor by an independent panel that is itself made up of distinguished New Americans, the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellows receive for two years one-half of the tuition cost of their graduate study at any institution of higher education in the United States, as well as a maintenance grant of $20,000 per year.


Among those appointed are:

·         a child of naturalized US citizen parents from India, growing up in Georgia and receiving his undergraduate degree at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School, to begin an MBA at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, after several years with McKinsey & Co., four years in the US Air Force as a captain, and now chief of staff to the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense, to prepare for a career in global security technology and serving the national interest;

  • a lyric soprano, born in Russia and coming to the US as a child, graduating from the New England Conservatory and now with the initial vocal arts program created by Dawn Upshaw for the Bard Conservatory of Music, making her debut this year at Carnegie Hall and Tanglewood;
  • an Iranian, coming to the US as a child on asylum status, growing up in California, studying economics and finance at the University of California at Santa Cruz and now a PhD student in economics at Berkeley, specializing in policy related research in the area of labor economics and international development;
  • a Yale Law School student, born in the US to naturalized citizens from Nigeria, attending Ohio State and L'École libre des sciences politiques, with considerable experience at the Federal and State levels, intending to be a civil rights attorney with particular interest in educational access;
  • a first-year medical student at the University of Washington, born in Viet Nam and arrived with her parents in asylum status, attended Seattle University, recipent of both a Truman and Gates Millenium scholarship, intending a career as a primary care physician serving the underserved.


Three had Rhodes scholarships, two had Marshall scholarships, two Fulbrighters, eight with Truman scholarships, and several with such awards as the Howard Hughes, Gates Cambridge and Goldwater scholarships. Several awardees have worked with major consulting firms, national and international nonprofit and governmental organizations, and interned from the office of the mayor of Los Angeles to the Director of the HIV/AIDS program of the World Health Organization.


The 2007 Soros Fellows are:


  • Eunice Cho (born in Urbana, IL, undergraduate at Yale University, family resides in Tempe, AZ) is studying at Stanford Law School;
  • Yahonnes Cleary (born in Lynn, MA, undergraduate at Columbia University and Marshall Scholar at Oxford, family resides in the Bronx, NY) is studying at Yale Law School;
  • Wei Lien Dang (born in Los Angeles, CA, undergraduate at California Institute of Technology and Marshall Scholar at Cambridge University and Imperial College London, family reside in Granada Hills, CA) to pursue a PhD in  physical biology and engineering at Harvard University;
  • Mary Farag (born in New York City, undergraduate at Harvard University, family live in Hackensack, NJ) to pursue a Master's in Religion;
  • Shelli Farhadian (born in Iran, undergraduate at MIT, family live in New York City) is pursuing an MD/PhD at Weill Cornell Rockefeller Sloan Kettering Tri-Institutional Program;
  • Dov Fox (born in Rehovot, Israel, undergraduate at Harvard University and a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, family resides in West Hartford, CT) to study law at Yale University;
  • Ricardo Gonzalez Rubio (born in Santo Domingo, Dom. Rep., undergraduate at City College of New York, family resides in Santa Domingo) to pursue at PhD in medical engineering and medical physics;
  • Gaurav Gupta ( born in Fairfax, VA, undergraduate at Johns Hopkins University, family reside in McLean, VA) to study medicine
  • K. Cyrus Habib (born in Baltimore, MD, undergraduate at Columbia University and Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, family resides in Kirkland, WA) is studying at Yale Law School;
  • Carolina Gabriela Jauregui (born in Mexico City, undergraduate at Loyola Marymount University, family resides in Mexico City) is pursuing an MFA in creative writing at University of California, Riverside and a PhD in Comparative Literature at the University of Southern California;
  • Amit Kaushal (born in New York City, undergraduate at Stanford University, his family resides in Newhall, CA) is pursuing an MD/PhD at Stanford University;
  • Michelle Kuo (born in Kalamazoo, MI, undergraduate at Harvard University, family resides in Fishers, IN) is studying at Harvard Law School;
  • Dror Ladin (born in Boston, MA, undergraduate at Vassar College, family resides in Newton, MA) to study at Yale Law School;
  • Scott Lee (born in Seoul, Korea, undergraduate at Harvard and Gates Scholar at Cambridge, family resides in Korea) is studying at Harvard Medical School
  • Jie Li (born in Shanghai, China, undergraduate at Harvard University, family resides in Shanghai) is pursuing a PhD East Asian languages & civilizations and visual and film studies at Harvard University;
  • Mariangela Lisanti (born in the Bronx, NY, undergraduate at Harvard, family lives in Westport, CT) is pursuing a PhD in physics at Stanford University;
  • Ngoc-Phuong Luu (born in Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam, undergraduate at Seattle University, family resides in Kent, WA) is studying at University of Washington Medical School;
  • Patricia McGregor (born in Christianstead, VI, undergraduate at Southern Methodist University, family resides in Bryson City, NC) is pursuing an MFA in Directing at Yale University;
  • Sumir Meghani (born in Burlington, VT, undergraduate at Stanford University, family resides in Fremont, CA) is studying at Harvard Business School;
  • Sue Meng (born in Beijing, China, undergraduate at Harvard University and Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, family resides in New York City) is studying at  Yale Law School;
  • Anbinh Phan (born in Malaysia to Vietnamese refugees, undergraduate at Pomona College, MPA from Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton, family resides in Torrance, CA) to study law;
  • Nina Rastogi (born in Summit, NJ, undergraduate at Yale University, family resides in San Jose, CA) to study journalism,
  • Viviana Risca (born in Bucharest, Hungary, undergraduate at Stanford University, family resides in Port Washington, NY) is pursuing a PhD in biophysics at University of California at Berkeley;
  • Keyan Salari (born in Lansing, MI, undergraduate at University of California at Berkeley, family resides in Cupertino, CA) is pursuing an MD/PhD at Stanford University;
  • Enrique Schaerer (born in Reno, NV, undergraduate at the University of Notre Dame, family resides in Las Vegas, NV) is studying at Yale Law School;
  • Reza Shabani (born in Pontoise, France, undergraduate at University of California at Santa Cruz) is pursuing a PhD in economics at University of California at Berkeley;
  • Raj Shah (born in Madisonville, TX, undergraduate at Princeton University, family resides in Bonaire, GA) to study business at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania,
  • Gaurav Singal (born in Pittsburgh, PA, undergraduate at Columbia University, family resides in Millersville, MD) is studying Health Sciences and Technology  at Harvard Medical School and MIT;
  • Ebunoluwa Taiwo (born in Oakland, CA, undergraduate at Ohio State University and MS from Sciences Po, Paris, family resides in Carmel, IN) is studying at Yale Law School;
  • Yulia Van Doren (born in Moscow, Russia, undergraduate at New England Conservatory of Music, family resides in Carlisle, PA) is studying vocal arts at Bard College Conservatory of Music;
  • James Williams (born in Syracuse, NY, undergraduate at Princeton University, family resides in Portland, OR) to study law.


The Fellowships were established in 1997. It is funded by income from a charitable trust of $65 million created by philanthropists Paul and Daisy Soros, of New York City and New Canaan, Connecticut. Since the program's inception, over $23 million dollars have been spent in support of graduate education of New Americans. In the past nine competitions, 262 Fellowships have been given; there are now 58 Fellows at 21 universities undertaking graduate study in 21 different fields. Over the years Soros Fellows attended 82 undergraduate institutions and have pursued their graduate studies at 42 different universities; they and their families represent sixty-six countries, further complicated by representation of oppressed minorities in those countries. There are also 204 alumni, including authors of twenty-seven books, twenty-five patents (four in commercial development), three composers whose work was premiered this year by leading orchestras, four instrumentalists who had their debuts this past year, and thirty-five clerkships for Federal judges, including five at the US Supreme Court. There are also young and promising academics, doctors, artists, lawyers, and individuals in business.


More particularly, the Soros program has helped, among other degree recipients, 68 MDs, 52 JDs, 50 PhDs, 22 MBAs, 14 MFAs and 36 other master's complete their academic programs.


"We founded the Fellowship program to encourage young people with demonstrated leadership qualities, much like the Rhodes scholarships." Mr. Soros comments. "Our criteria are designed to identify people who will make a success of their lives and who will contribute something to this country, in whatever area of endeavor they choose."


In addition to the relevance of graduate study to a candidate's long-term goals, there are three criteria for candidates:

·         creativity, originality, and initiative, demonstrated in any area of her/his life;

·         commitment to and capacity for accomplishment, demonstrated through activity that has required drive and sustained effort; and

·         commitment to the values expressed in the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The third criterion includes activity in support of human rights and the rule of law, in opposition to unwarranted encroachment on personal liberty, and in advancing the responsibilities of citizenship in a free society.


As it has been for the 262 predecessors, the Soros Fellowship will be important to the thirty-one new Fellows: they will be able to study fulltime; they will reduce their dependence on student loans; they will be able to chose summer experiences more in keeping with their career goals and not with an eye towards paying next year's tuition, and they can plan their futures in the fields they consider important and not those that will pay off their debts more quickly.


The finalists were interviewed in Los Angeles and New York by an independent selection panel made up of New Americans. Ranging in age from 21 to 29, these new Fellows intend to pursue careers in music, medicine, law, business, literature, journalism, directing, public policy, global health, film making, creative writing, biophysics, astronomy, and engineering. They are enrolled in graduate programs at Harvard, Stanford, Bard, Cornell, University of Pennsylvania, University of Southern California, Universities of California at Berkeley and Riverside, University of Washington, MIT, and Yale. Among the over 800 applicants from 257 undergraduate and 150 graduate institutions, there were represented 134 different national origins, including many minorities within countries (such as Kurds, Armenians, Jews, Overseas Indians, Copts, Chaldeans, Baha'i and Hmong). The selection panels chose 84 candidates to interview from among the applicants, and from those, 31 new Paul & Daisy Soros Fellows are named.


15 are women, and 16 are men. The average age is 25. 87% attended private undergraduate colleges and universities, while among those already in graduate school, 82% are in private universities. 58% are in or planning to attend medical and law school. Eighteen members of the Class of 2007 were born in the US; the others came as adults or as children, often as refugees from oppression. In terms of national origins: Africa (1); East Asia (9); South Asia (8); Southeast Asia (3); Middle East (7); Latin America and the Caribbean (5), Eastern Europe (3), and Western Europe (4).


The entire roster of Soros Fellows (with this group now 293 in number) truly represents the world. Sixty-six separate countries are the origins of their immigration history. In their number are Jews; Baha'i; Sunni, Shi'ite, and Ismaili Muslims; Protestant, Orthodox, Syrian, Coptic and Catholic Christians; Shamanists; Confucians; Theravadic, Mahayana and Zen Buddhists; all varieties of Hinduism; Sikh, Jains; agnostics and atheists. The 293 Fellows hail from 33 US states and the District of Columbia, though most concentrated in states with the largest immigration. While several grew up in suburbs, sixteen spent their early lives in refugee camps. Many of the parents are professionals, though often practicing in underserved areas; others are children of migrant farm workers, small businesspeople, household workers, and factory workers. Some were orphaned and effectively raised themselves. About half have parents who went to college; indeed immigration was a vehicle for them to do so.


The 2007 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellows were selected by a panel of 41 distinguished New Americans. They are:


·         Mustafa Abadan, partner, Skidmore Owings & Merrill;

·         Leonardo Arriola, PhD candidate in political science at Stanford University;

·         Babacar Cisse, MD/PhD candidate, College of Physicians, Columbia University;

·         Benjamin Chong, dermatology resident in Detroit, MI;

·         Gilbert Chu, professor of medicine & biochemistry, Stanford University;

·         John Espinoza, poet, adjunct professor at National Hispanic University;

·         Mill Etienne, fellow in epilepsy & neurophysiology at Columbia University;

·         Roben Farzad, staff writer for Business Week;

·         Maximo Flugelman, financier and composer;

·         Barry Gaberman, executive vice president emeritus, The Ford Foundation;

·         Suzanne Goh, fellows in pediatric neurology, University of California at San Francisco;

·         J. Michael Graglia, project officer, International Finance Corporation;

·         Neil Hattangadi, associate, McKinsey & Company;

·         Joseph Hennawi, Hubble Fellow, University of California at Berkeley;

·         Marife Hernandez Bell, president, The Cultural Communications Group;

·         Paul Holdengraber, Director of Public Programs, New York Public Library;

·         Bert Huang, completing PhD in economics at Harvard University;

·         Jerry Kang, professor of law, UCLA ;

·         Marshall Kaplan, director, Merage Foundation;

·         Navneet Kathuria, vice chair of quality assurance, dept. of medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine;

·         Jin "PJ" Kim, Director, FoodChange;

·         Miwon Kwon, professor of contemporary art, UCLA;

·         Frederic J. Laffont, CFO, Coatue Management LLC;

·         Erik Lee, program officer, Merage Foundation;

·         Ankur Luthra, vice president, Summit Partners;

·         Neysun Mahboubi, Fellow, China Law Center, & Tutor-in-Law, at Yale;

·         Mehret Mandefro, resident in primary care, Montefiore Medical Center;

·         Guillermo Mayer, staff attorney for Public Advocates, Inc.;

·         John Mollenkopf, professor of political science & sociology, CUNY Graduate Center;

·         Edward Muecke, Clinical Professor of Urology, Cornell University;

·         N.J. Nicholas Jr., president, Navy Walk Partners;

·         Marie Nugent-Head, President, Printempia;

·         Alma Ruiz, curator, Museum of Contemporary Art; Los Angeles

·         Thomas A Saenz, Counsel, Mayor of the City of Los Angeles;

·         Patricia Sanchez, assistant professor, University of Texas at San Antonio;

·         Anika Singh, Skadden Fellow, Urban Justice Center;

·         Quinh Thai, consultant;

·         Dean Valentine, President & Founder, First Family Entertainment;

·         Marica Vilcek, art historian and philanthropist;

·         Alice Wang, attorney, DC Public Defender Service;

·         Deborah Yeh, ophthalmology resident, St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, Ann Arbor;



The deadline for applications for the next round of Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans is Saturday, November 1, 2007. Qualified applicants may obtain information at the website at





Daisy Margaret Soros

Daisy Margaret Soros grew up in Hungary and graduated from Ecole Hotelier in Lausanne, Switzerland. She came to the US on a student visa, enrolling at Columbia University. She later attended New York School of Interior Design, studied at NYU School of Social Work, and worked extensively as a counselor to terminally ill patients and their families. She is a Member of the Board of Lincoln Center, a Member of the Board & Executive Committee of the New York Philharmonic, Honorary Trustee of International House; Member of the Board of Overseers of Weill Cornell Medical College, Society of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Venetian Heritage Inc., and the Mayors Fund to Advance New York City; and Executive Committee Member of the Rockefeller University Council. She and her husband underwrite The Midsummer Night Swing Program of Lincoln Center. Mrs. Soros was the recipient of the Metro International Fulbright Award, Lincoln Center Laureate Award, Ellis Island Medal of Honor, International House Harry Edmonds Award, the Casita Maria Gold Medal of Honor, The National Immigration Forum's "Keepers of the American Dream Award," was honored by the Henry Street Settlement and received an honorary Doctor of Laws at Bates College in Maine. Daisy and her husband, Paul, have two sons, Peter and Jeffrey. Peter is involved in finance and lives in England with his wife, Flora Fraser, the renowned writer, and their two sons. Jeffrey, a screenwriter and philanthropist involved in contemporary art, resides in California with his wife and two children.


Paul Soros

Born in Hungary in 1926, Paul Soros studied mechanical engineering in Budapest. When a Communist government came to power, he began looking for a chance to escape. In 1948, as a member of the Hungarian ski team at the Olympic games in Switzerland, he defected. Having made his way to the US, he took a master's degree in engineering from Polytechnic University in Brooklyn. In 1956, he founded Soros Associates, an international engineering firm that eventually had port development, offshore terminal, and bulk handling projects in 90 countries. Mr. Soros holds several patents in material handling and offshore technology and is the author of more than a hundred technical articles. He served on the Review Panel of the President's Office of Science and Technology and received the Gantt Medal of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the Outstanding Engineering Achievement Award of the National Society of Professional Engineers. He is now active in Paul Soros Investments, is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and is a board member of several corporations and non-profit organizations. Last May, he received an honorary Doctor of Law at Bates College, ME.


Warren F. Ilchman

Warren Ilchman grew up in Colorado. He is a graduate of Brown University with a doctorate from the University of Cambridge where he was a Marshall Scholar. With a career in higher education spanning almost forty years, he has taught and administered in several institutions including Williams College, Boston University, Harvard University, University of California at Berkeley, SUNY and Indiana University.  He has served as a consultant to many countries, foundations and international agencies including the Governments of India, Nepal, and China; the Rockefeller Foundation, The Ford Foundation, The Thomas J. Watson Foundation, the World Bank, USAID, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Department of Education. He has authored or edited eighteen books, the most recent of which is entitled The Lucky Few and the Worthy Many: Selecting the World's Future Leaders (Indiana University Press, 2004). His field of expertise is philanthropy and public policy. He has been with the Program since its inception on January 7th, 1998. He is on the boards of the General Theological Seminary and Westchester Community Foundation. In the Fall of 2002 and 2003, he was a Distinguished Ella Walker Fellow at the Rockefeller Conference Center in Bellagio, Italy, where among other things, he convened with his wife an international conference on nationally and internationally competitive scholarships.



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