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June 26, 2012

Four scholars with Stanford affiliations awarded 2012 Soros Fellowships

A Stanford medical student, two alums and a scholar who will begin a joint degree program at the Graduate School of Business and the School of Education this fall have received Soros Fellowships, which honor and support the graduate educations of "New Americans."

Four scholars with Stanford affiliations are among the 30 people who recently received Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans.

One of the Soros fellows is a student at Stanford Medical School. Of the two Stanford alumni who received fellowships, one is pursuing a law degree at Yale University and the other is pursuing a master of fine arts degree in fiction writing at the University of Michigan. The fourth scholar will begin a joint degree program this fall at Stanford, where he is pursuing an MBA at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and an MA at the Stanford School of Education.

Each fellow receives tuition and living expenses of up to $90,000 over two academic years. The fellowships were established for the children of immigrants. Soros scholars are selected on the basis of merit – the specific criteria emphasize creativity, originality, initiative and sustained accomplishment. They may study in any degree-granting program in any field at any U.S. university.

Paul and Daisy Soros, Hungarian immigrants and American philanthropists, established the program in 1997 and awarded the first fellowships the following year. The couple wanted to "give back" to the country that had given so much to them and their children, to address an unmet need by assisting "young New Americans at critical points in their educations" and to call attention to the extensive and diverse contributions of immigrants to the quality of life in the United States.

Currently, 61 Soros Fellows are studying at 22 universities in 27 fields of study.

Following are the 2012 Soros Fellows with Stanford affiliations.

Jasmeet Ahuja, a third-year student at Yale Law School, was born in California to Punjabi Sikh parents who immigrated to the United States in the 1970s. Her family's harrowing experience with religious intolerance in India continues to energize her fight for the American constitutional promise of equal protection under the law. She earned a bachelor's degree, with honors, in management science and engineering at Stanford in 2003. She also was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. Ahuja earned a master's degree in management science and engineering at Stanford in 2004.  After graduating, she accepted an appointment as a Presidential Management Fellow at the Office of the Secretary of Defense in the Pentagon. Later, Ahuja served as director of South Asia in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs at the Department of State and as a professional staff member on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. As a committee staff member, she helped craft foreign policy legislation on aid to Pakistan, negotiate the civil-nuclear deal with India and lobby for Sikh Americans to be allowed to wear turbans while serving in the U.S. military. She also served as the chair of the Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership, a non-profit organization dedicated to building leadership within the Asian American community. After graduating from Yale, Ahuja plans to continue her work in foreign affairs to ensure that the rule of law guides national security decisions.

Henry W. Leung, an MFA student at the University of Michigan, was born in a village in Guangdong, China, as an illegal second child under China's One-Child Policy. Shortly thereafter, his parents received permission to emigrate to the United States. His father suddenly died, leaving his mother alone to raise two small children, first in Honolulu, then in California. At 16, Leung was accepted to a writing program in New York hosted by the National Book Foundation. He graduated in 2010 with a bachelor's degree from Stanford, where he majored in English and creative writing and minored in East Asian Studies. At Stanford, he led the university's first Asian American writers' workshop. His poetry, short fiction and essays have appeared in several respected literary publications, and he has served as a consulting editor to the Stanford Journal of Asian American Studies; as a columnist for the Lantern Review: A Journal of Asian American Poetry; and as an editor for The Best American Nonrequired Reading. Currently, he is completing a book of poetry and writing his first novel, which he said "engages with the martial arts as an American anachronism of spiritualism and tradition."

Johnny Lin will begin a joint degree program – pursuing an MBA at the Stanford Graduate School of Business and a master's degree at the Stanford School of Education – this fall. Lin was raised in southern Taiwan until he was 13, when his family moved to Los Angeles. His abilities in a range of art forms led to his first job working as Disney's youngest caricaturist. He chose to attend Brown University, in part to continue training in illustration and photography at the Rhode Island School of Design. While in college, Lin founded Strait Talk, a program that brings together young leaders from China, Taiwan and the United States for in-depth dialogue. Strait Talk now runs programs across Asia and the United States, aimed at creating a generation of leaders with the knowledge, empathy and trust necessary to build sustained peace between Taiwan and China. After graduating from Brown – where he triple-majored in education, economics and international relations – Lin worked for The Bridgespan Group as a strategy consultant for nonprofits and foundations in the education sector. As a Fulbright Scholar to India, he studied the relationship between the two emerging global giants: China and India. Lin speaks each of the world's four most widely spoken languages: Mandarin, Spanish, English and Hindi-Urdu. He is committed to building more innovative approaches to education as a social entrepreneur.

Cesar Lopez Angel, who is pursuing an MD degree and PhD in immunology at Stanford Medical School, was born in Guadalajara, Mexico. His family moved to San Jose, Calif., when he was 4 years old. His parents worked many labor-intensive jobs for minimum wages in the hopes that their children would take advantage of educational opportunities. Lopez Angel gravitated toward the sciences, but as a volunteer at a food bank that served the HIV-positive, low-income community, he soon became interested in medicine as a career. He won admission to Harvard University and pursued translational research on HIV vaccination in the labs of the late Norman L. Letvin and Lindsey Robert Baden. At the Harvard Peer Health Exchange, where he volunteered for more than 600 hours, he directed Peer Contraceptive Counselors and led workshops for teenagers aimed at preventing sexually transmitted infections. He earned a bachelor's degree in chemical and physical biology at Harvard in 2009. At Stanford Medical School, Lopez Angel is studying the influence of age on T-cell function in the lab of Mark Davis, a professor of microbiology and immunology – work that is leading to a PhD in immunology. In addition to his academic work, he has administered seasonal flu vaccinations to migrant farm workers, staffed community health screening events and served as chair of an HIV testing program at Pacific Free Clinic, Stanford's free clinic for low-income, uninsured adults. He served as co-president of Stanford's Latino Medical Student Association and as a mentor to freshmen interested in medicine and biomedical research. He will begin his third year at Stanford Medical School this fall.


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