P.D. Soros Fellowship for New Americans


Q&A: MD Student Minh-Duyen Thi Nguyen Looks Back At The Fellowship

  • Minh-Duyen Thi Nguyen
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 Minh-Duyen Thi Nguyen, a 2015 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellow, to look back at the first two years of the Fellowship and what they have meant to her.
Minh-Duyen immigrated to the United States from Vietnam with her family when she was five. Her mother’s tofu business helped the family integrate into a community of working class immigrants in Wichita, Kansas. Her understanding of advocacy took hold while growing up dependent on state welfare and the social services of Catholic Charities. Minh-Duyen gained acceptance to an international baccalaureate program in high school, and was named a Questbridge scholar, Gates Millennium Scholar and Philip Evans Scholar, which allowed her to attend Swarthmore College. The Fellowship supported her studies at Stanford School of Medicine. 

You’re now finishing up the second year of the program. Has the Fellowship been what you expected?

The Fellowship has exceeded my expectations. The staff and alumni have worked incredibly hard to create a feeling of cohesiveness among PD Soros Fellows. At the annual Fall Conference, I didn’t feel like I was simpy being introduced to the class of current scholars, but rather that I was being welcomed into a wider community that ranged across class years. 

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

The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship has given me peace of mind in being able to afford a medical education. I feel honored and incredibly lucky to be able to draw on this diverse community of passionate, talented, and responsive individuals.

Do you have any favorite memories from your Fellowship experience?

My favorite memory of the Fellowship experience was during dinner at our first annual Fall Conference. Our group had taken up the second floor at a small Italian restaurant that served some of the best pasta I’ve ever had. The director of the program, Craig Harwood, asked us to go around the table and share our favorite home-cooked meals. I couldn’t tell you, today, what everyone’s favorite food was, but I loved being able to imagine that small moment of joy with everyone at the table. 

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

I remember reading the profiles of current PD Soros Fellows and feeling almost too intimidated to apply. You shouldn’t be intimidated. The PD Soros Fellowship is not about finding the perfect resume, but about people and the totality of their experiences and narratives. Don’t be afraid to share that. As you’re applying, don’t include just what you did but also consider why you did it. 

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

I have just completed my preclinical years at Stanford School of Medicine. I’m a tad nervous, but mostly excited to enter the clinical setting next and start practicing medicine, learning new procedures, and contributing to patient care.

How do you plan to stay active with the Fellowship community in the years to come?

I’ve received a lot of questions about the PD Soros Fellowship from applicants at Stanford and other institutions and plan to continue fielding questions and promoting the Fellowship. I’d also like to find time to attend more local PD Soros events to meet other alumni and current Fellows.


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