The award recognizes immigrants to the United States for exceptional academic record, leadership, consistent ethical behavior and potential to make an important contribution to the U.S. Fellows receive a $20,000 stipend over two years.
Jani, who double majors in biology and international studies and is fulfilling pre-medical school coursework, intends to use the scholarship to volunteer in clinics in the rural areas around Madurai, South India, and teach English to children in an orphanage. She plans to return to the U.S. to enroll in medical school and continue with a residency in surgery.
Born in war-torn Albania, Jani was saved by the presence of Doctors Without Borders, an international medical humanitarian organization. She has devoted her life to repaying their efforts and plans to join the organization after she completes medical school.
Jani serves as a community assistant for University Residential Life. A devoted volunteer with the Make a Wish Foundation, she received a Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholarship last summer, which allowed her to attend summer language school in France. She speaks many languages including Albanian, Italian, Turkish and French.
The Merage Foundation for the American Dream is dedicated to helping immigrants join mainstream America. It inspires young immigrants to achieve their American Dream and helps them become leaders in their communities and in the nation. It recognizes and celebrates the contributions of new Americans and their individual and collective positive impact on their new country.
Jani will be recognized in June at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. In addition to the fellows, the honorees include singer Gloria Estefan, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and New York Times columnist Roger Cohen.