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P.D. Soros Fellowship for New Americans

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Matthew Nguyen, 2017

JD, Yale University

Matthew is the child of refugees from Vietnam

Fellowship awarded to support work towards a JD in Law and Education at Yale University

Matt's parents fled Vietnam as child refugees at the height of the Vietnam War. Arriving in America with minimal English and pennies to their name, they bounced between resettlement camps before making California their home. Through their own perseverance and the support of generous social programs that gave them the opportunity to succeed, Matt's parents built a better life for themselves and their families. Born and raised in California, and grateful for his parents’ sacrifices, Matt has dedicated his career to empowering everyday Californians—children, families, and communities—through policy advocacy and civil rights litigation.

Matt has fought to improve social and economic opportunity for all Californians. As a former aide to Governor Jerry Brown, Matt worked to raise the minimum wage, invest in California’s K-12 and higher education systems, expand access to affordable housing and quality healthcare, and balance the state budget. After the 2016 election, he advanced bipartisan legislation to protect California’s Dreamers as part of Senator Kamala Harris’s transition. And since the 2018 election, Matt has managed a policy team to advise Governor Gavin Newsom’s transition.

Matt directed a nonprofit education rights clinic representing children and families in landmark constitutional rights cases to end ongoing racial segregation in public schools and protect their fundamental right to an education. He also advised the ACLU of Southern California in a legal challenge to Riverside County’s criminalizing school discipline regime and in a groundbreaking $150 million settlement for Los Angeles County’s most disadvantaged students. For his work in education rights, Matt was recognized as a 2018 changemaker by former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara and as an emerging global leader by the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Matt is a proud alumnus of Orange County public schools. He graduated salutatorian from the University of California, Berkeley, and will earn his law degree from Yale Law School, the only Vietnamese American student in his graduating class. At Yale, Matt served as a Coker Fellow for Torts, President of the Project for Law & Education at Yale, Notes & Comments Editor of the Yale Law Journal, and Managing Editor of the Yale Law & Policy Review. In his free time, he volunteers for local OC Boy Scout Troop 319, where he was an Eagle Scout.

Matt is scheduled to clerk for Associate Justice Goodwin Liu on the California Supreme Court.

  • Matthew Nguyen GIF
  • JD Law, Education | Yale University 2019
  • BA | University of California, Berkeley 2015
  • CAFE 100 Changemaker | U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara
  • Eagle Scout | Boy Scouts of America, Troop 319
  • Elected as a Junior | Phi Beta Kappa
  • Salutatorian (University Medal Finalist) | UC Berkeley
  • California Executive Fellow | Office of Governor Jerry Brown
  • Diversity and Inclusion Scholar | Arnold & Porter LLP
  • Distinguished Service Recognition | US Mission to the European Union
  • McDonald Leadership Fellow | US Military Academy at West Point
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