Campus & Community

Eleven affiliates win Soros Fellowship for New Americans

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Eleven Harvard University students and graduates are among the 30 recipients for the 2001 Paul and Daisy Soros New American Fellowship. Fellows receive up to a $20,000 stipend plus half tuition for as many as two years of graduate study at any institution of higher learning in the U.S.

Now in its fourth year of operation, the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans seeks to identify, honor, and support individuals who “have shown extraordinary creativity and sustained achievement as well as a commitment to constitutional and Bill of Rights values.” More than 900 applicants, who are naturalized citizens, resident aliens, or the children of naturalized citizens, applied this year.

Of the 11 from Harvard to receive the award, six are second-year students at Harvard Medical School (HMS) and two others are in their first year at HMS. Warren Ilchman, director of the program, noted that HMS seems to do “an extraordinary job of finding and attracting individuals who have shown great promise of building on their very distinctive backgrounds toward leadership in varied aspects of medical practice and research. Our program looks for similar kinds of individuals so we are not surprised that HMS is well-represented among our fellows.”

Ilchman added, “Of the eight [HMS students], Ramy Arnaout’s family came to Boston from Lebanon, Suzanne Goh’s came to Ohio from China via Taiwan, and Erica Seiguer’s to Baltimore from Argentina. Grace Lopez was born in El Salvador and was raised in California, Karimi Mailutha was born in Kenya and grew up in Harlem, Mehret Mandefro was born in Ethiopia and grew up in Virginia, Pardis Sabeti was born in Iran and grew up in Florida, and Harsha Reddy was born in India and grew up in Wisconsin. Each of them has an exciting and practicable vision for a career in science and medicine that we feel honored to support.”

Second-year Harvard Law School student Jeannie Suk was also named a 2001 Soros Fellow. A Yale undergraduate and a Rhodes Scholar, Suk’s book, “Postcolonial Paradoxes,” based on her doctorate in philosophy thesis, will be coming out later this year from Oxford University Press.

Two Harvard graduates are also recipients of the Soros Award. Ming Hsu, class of 2000, is currently a research assistant at The Brookings Institution and a research fellow of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. She will begin working toward her law degree at New York University in the fall. Chimene Keitner, class of 1996, completed her master’s degree and doctorate in international relations at Oxford University, where she was a Rhodes Scholar. She is currently in her second year at Yale Law School.

The Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans was established in 1997 as a charitable trust of $50 million to assist new Americans in furthering their careers through graduate education. The donors, both “new Americans” themselves, created the trust to thank the United States for the life it has provided them and their children. Eighty fellowships have been given in three preceding rounds. There are currently 72 fellows at 29 universities studying 24 different subjects. The program also has eight alumni.

Soros Fellows at HMS

Ramy Arnaout has been a student at HMS since 1999. He was born in Boston in 1976 to parents of Lebanese descent. A graduate in biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.), he was editor-in-chief of The Tech, an award-winning student newspaper, and wrote for US News and World Report and Technology Review. He earned his doctorate in philosophy at Oxford, where he was a British Marshall Scholar. His thesis analyzed immune responses and new treatment strategies through the lens of mathematics. A mathematical biologist, he worked on the biochemistry of transcription and splicing with Nobel laureate Phillip Sharp, and used mathematical and evolutionary analysis to study HIV and genetic regulatory networks as a visitor at Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Study. His scientific writings have appeared in Immunology Today, Journal of Theoretical Biology, and Journal of Virology.

Suzanne Goh was born in 1975 in Toledo, Ohio, to parents who immigrated to the United States from Taiwan. She received her bachelor of arts in history and science with a concentration in the history of medicine from Harvard. She swam varsity 100-meter butterfly and 100-meter freestyle and played violin in the Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra. As a Rhodes Scholar, she earned both a master’s of business administration and a master’s degree in women’s studies from Oxford. Her thesis explored social and psychological impacts of disfiguring skin diseases. A professional ballroom dancer, Goh and her partner won regional advanced Latin dance competitions and competed in the British Open and U.S. National championships. A student at the Harvard Medical School since the fall of 1999, she has used dance as a vehicle for generating energy and renewal among physically impaired geriatric patients.

Erica Seiguer was born in 1976 in Baltimore to parents who immigrated from Argentina. At Princeton, she founded the Bioethics Forum, was president of her class, and graduated with a B.A. in molecular biology and a certificate from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public Policy. She wrote her thesis on the biological, social, and economic obstacles to the development of an HIV vaccine. At Harvard Medical School since 1999, she is the first M.D. student to simultaneously pursue a Ph.D. in health policy. She founded and is the chair of the Harvard Health Caucus, a university-wide interdisciplinary health policy think tank based at HMS. Working at the Sabin Institute, Seiguer wrote a monograph on malaria and subsequently helped initiate the Malaria Vaccine Initiative, a $50 million program funded by the William and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Grace Lopez was born in El Salvador in 1974. Two years later her family fled the civil war to the violence of Los Angeles ethnic conflict and then to the quiet desert community of Lancaster, Calif. Neither her family nor her school encouraged higher education, but Lopez excelled in the sciences, math, and the humanities at Antelope Valley Junior College. She later won admission to the College Honors program at the University of California, Los Angeles, where she graduated magna cum laude in 1995 with honors for her thesis in physiological sciences. She is currently in her second year at Harvard Medical School. The need to increase numbers of Latina/o doctors prompted her to become Mentoring Program Coordinator for Sociedad Latina, a Hispanic agency in Roxbury, Mass. She spent the summer of 2000 in Cuba assessing the impact of economic factors on services for HIV/AIDS patients.

Karimi Grace Mailutha was born in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1977 and was brought to the United States when she was 2. Living in Harlem, her parents worked and pursued graduate educations while raising five children. Admitted to Prep for Prep, an enrichment program for gifted minority students, she subsequently won a scholarship to Choate Rosemary Hall in Connecticut. She spent her junior year in France and a semester on a Navajo reservation. She attended Columbia, graduating with a major in biology and a concentration in history. She then served as an AmeriCorps Promise Fellow with San Francisco’s Promise, a nonprofit “Alliance for Youth” where she was a leading force in rejuvenating the city’s National Youth Service Day, 2000. Now at Harvard Medical School, she plans to specialize in obstetrics or internal medicine and to pursue a master’s degree in public health.

Mehret Mandefro was born in Ethiopia in 1976. Her family fled to the United States a year later in the face of civil and political violence. Raised in Alexandria, Va., Mandefro graduated from Harvard, cum laude, with a major in biological anthropology. She worked in Washington, D.C., to decrease infant mortality among children of young mothers; worked in Kenya with mothers of malnourished children; and as a Samuel Huntington Public Service Fellow, founded a program to encourage immigrant children in her hometown to attend college. She entered Harvard Medical School in 1999 and will pursue a degree in public health.

Pardis Sabeti entered Harvard Medical School in 2000 and plans a career in academic medicine. President of her class and a four-year member of the varsity tennis team at M.I.T., she earned a degree in biology and now serves on the Institute’s board of trustees. As a Rhodes Scholar, she earned her master’s degree in human biology and will shortly complete her doctorate in biological anthropology. Specializing in genetic diversity, she has contributed an article in Encarta Africana. Sabeti was born in Iran in 1974. Her family fled the revolution when she was 4 and now resides in Orlando, Fla.

Harsha Reddy moved with his family from south India to Cedarburg, Wis., when he was 6. He attended the University of Wisconsin, where he earned his bachelor of arts in psychology and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa as a junior. Recipient of the university’s undergraduate Excellence Award for Leadership and Service, he returned to India to live with a tribal community in a tiger wildlife refuge. He has produced a photographic exhibit to advance protection of the reserve as well as a novel about two tribal boys. He entered Harvard Medical School in 1999 and hopes to continue writing as he begins a medical career.

Soros Fellows at HLS

Jeannie Suk was born in Seoul, Korea, in 1973 but moved to New York City as a young child. With parents who worked long hours, she and her sister “raised each other.” Suk attended the School of American Ballet, Juilliard’s pre-collegiate division (in piano and composition), and Hunter College High School. She graduated cum laude with distinction in literature from Yale and then went to Oxford, where as a Marshall Scholar she earned her doctorate. Her thesis, “Postcolonial Paradoxes,” is being published by Oxford University Press in 2001. Entering Harvard Law School in 1999, she foresees an academic career focusing on law and literature.

Soros Fellows/Harvard College graduates

Ming Hsu was born in 1977 in California to parents of Chinese heritage. She is a 2000 Harvard graduate, magna cum laude with high honors in social studies and the study of religion. Her thesis explores the interplay of faith and ethnic identity among Asian-Americans. Her numerous awards were capped by the Institute of Politics Director’s Internship to The Brookings Institution for the summer following graduation. Remaining there as a research assistant to E.J. Dionne, she wrote an influential working paper on problems and possibilities of faith in public life. She is co-editing a book with Dionne on the contributions of faith-based organizations in remedying social problems. Anticipating a career as an impact litigation attorney or as a professor of civil rights and constitutional law, she will begin work toward her law degree at New York University in the fall of 2001.

Chimene Keitner is a student at Yale Law School, where she is an editor of the Yale Law Review. She received her bachelor’s degree, magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, from Harvard in history and literature. As a Rhodes Scholar, she completed her master’s degree and doctorate in international relations at Oxford. She was born in Canada in 1975 to parents who had fled Hungary in 1956. The family resides in Providence, R.I. Building on internships at the French National Assembly, United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and Human Rights Watch, she expects to work in the field of international human rights as a professor and practitioner.

Ramy Arnaout

Suzanne Goh

Erica Seiguer

Grace Lopez

M. Mandefro

Jeannie Suk

Pardis Sabeti

C. Keitner