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Recognizing Contributions of New Americans

Soros Fellowship director honors Northwestern winners, encourages applications

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May 3, 2012 | by Amy Weiss
Provost Daniel Linzer joined Soros Fellows Victor Roy and Samir Mayekar, as well as Fellowship Director Stanley Heginbotham for a discussion of the program on April 17. Photo by Stephen Anzaldi. 

EVANSTON, Ill. --- The director of the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans shared the spotlight with two consecutive recipients of the awards April 17 during a day that highlighted the Soros experience and Northwestern’s advantage in the competitive process. 

Soros Fellowship director Stanley Heginbotham led the campus discussion with Feinberg School of Medicine student Victor Roy, a 2012 Soros Fellow who helped create GlobeMed, and Samir Mayekar, a 2011 Soros recipient who is working toward a degree at the Kellogg School of Management.

The Soros Fellowships provide up to $90,000 for two years of graduate education in any field to “new Americans” -- permanent residents, naturalized citizens or children of naturalized citizens. Thirty fellowships were awarded this year. 

Heginbotham, Roy and Mayekar came together in the Office of Fellowships for an afternoon information session to let prospective applicants know about the application process and the experience of being a fellow. 

“The fellowship was an opportunity to put the stories of my life, with what I’ve done so far and what I want to do going forward, and I got really excited about the chance just to do that, even if I didn’t get it ultimately,” Roy said of completing the application which asks about the students’ immigration experience, as well as their accomplishments and goals for the future. 

With the help of his 2012 Soros Fellowship, Roy will use his degrees to focus on “issues of power and how they affect those most vulnerable.” As an undergraduate, he helped create GlobeMed, a network of college students that works with grassroots organizations around the world to improve the health of people living in poverty. Also a recipient of a Gates Cambridge Scholarship, Roy will go on to work on a doctorate in sociology at the University of Cambridge. 

Mayekar talked about the numerous benefits of the fellowships. At an annual conference of current fellows, for example, he said, “We talked about major issues facing immigrant communities and major issues facing all of us as students navigating the beginning times in our graduate years.”

“It was really moving to be with a group of people in which everyone is such an over-performer and at the same time humble,” Mayekar added. “We’re really there to help each other.” 

Upon graduation, Mayekar plans to start a firm in Chicago that will help companies in the Midwest gain better access to global markets.

After a meeting with representatives from Feinberg, the Kellogg School of Management and the Provost’s Office, Soros Fellowship Director Heginbotham stressed Northwestern’s comparative advantages in applying for the fellowships.

He cited the breadth and strength of Northwestern’s programs, both at the undergraduate and graduate level. “The capacity for synergy between programs gives Northwestern students opportunities that students at many other institutions don’t have,” Heginbotham said.

For more information on the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans, visit the Soros Fellowship website at http://www.pdsoros.org/. For more on fellowship opportunities, visit the Office of Fellowships at http://www.northwestern.edu/fellowships/