P.D. Soros Fellowship for New Americans


Q&A: Raeuf Roushangar Looks Back At The Fellowship

The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans provides two years of funding for outstanding graduate students who are immigrants and children of immigrants. After two years the Fellows join a lifelong community of past Fellows. We asked Raeuf Roushangar, a 2015 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellow, to look back at the first two years of the Fellowship and what they have meant to him. Raeuf is a third-year biochemistry and molecular biology PhD student at Michigan State Univeristy, with a research focus on “omics” technologies and their applications in personalized precision medicine. 
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You’re now finishing up the second year of the program. Has the Fellowship been what you expected?

The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships exceeded all my expectations. The Fellowship to me is not just a Fellowship, in the sense of financial support, but rather a community of successful immigrants with a conviction to change the world. I was suddenly part of this wonderful family and that inspires me to do something more every day in my professional life. This is a truly amazing community that has given me a unique sense of purpose.

What have the primary benefits of The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship been for you? 

The primary benefits of The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship have been the freedom to pursue my dual degree PhD where I was able to tackle novel research problems without any financial burdens. It also gave me confidence and further developed my own individual creative spirit. The Fellowship helped forge my immigrant story that is not a finished story, but is a story of a dreamer that is in the making.

Do you have any favorite memories from your Fellowship experience?

Yes, of course I do have many wonderful memories from my Fellowship experience. The 2015 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships Fall Conference, first day (Friday afternoon), I was eager to meet my co-Fellows from the class of 2015, but I was anxious since I have never met any of them in person before. When I entered the conference room and saw them, I found that “we the people” represent the true colors of this country and that Americans do look like us: brown, black, LGBTQ, Baha'is, Muslims, Hindus, Latinos, etc. And through our conversations the day after, I learned that we may have never met before but we, or our parents, walked side by side the path of sacrifice and struggle to freedom seeking the American dream.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of applying?

I would like to take this opportunity to give two pieces of advice for anyone thinking of applying: First, when we were kids and someone asked us a question about our hardship and the injustice we faced, our mother encouraged us to stand tall, brave, and answer honestly. It taught us many things – most of all that you are not entitled to people for simply conjuring a question – truth is truth. Second, always remember that you are surviving with the knowledge you gain from your immigrant heritage. So, tell your story truly and don’t be afraid, and be proud of your immigrant experience when you apply. You will be blessed if you become part of this incredible Fellowship and join one of the most dynamic, successful and talented communities. I hope this ignites the fire in your belly to apply.

Where are you with your graduate program now? What’s next?

I just finished my third year pursuing a dual degree PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology, and bioinformatics and computational genomics at Michigan State University. I am currently developing a mathematical time series computational model for blood cancers with applications in personalized and precision medicine. I am hoping to finish my research by the end of the summer of 2018. I would like to eventually lead my own company in the area of personalized genetic testing.

I'm currently working on an early stage startup where I am building the software infrastructure, investigating the legal restrictions, determining the market to warrant it and how to take it to market. This will be a first step towards my goals, which will allow me to make my own contributions in this new field.

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