I’ve been inspired by Alvaro Bedoya (2006 Fellow), the founding director of the Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law, and by Fei-Fei Li (1999 Fellow), a professor of computer science at Stanford University. They are both amazing individuals who have had significant impact on the world of technology, privacy, and public policy, which are my goals for my own research and career.
It’s been far more. I have become significantly more in touch with my own New American roots through the friendships and conversations I’ve had with the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships community. It’s been amazing to meet such a high-achieving and generous group of Fellows who are willing to be open and welcome you into their lives, their successes, and their struggles.
Over the last two years, we’ve seen unrelenting attacks on immigrants and descendants of immigrants in American politics. The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship community is a demonstration against the xenophobia that underlies these attacks and policies. We demonstrate that immigrants from all backgrounds can and have contributed significantly to American businesses, universities, charities, and government agencies. The immigrant community is wide and diverse, but as a Paul & Daisy Soros Fellows we come from diverse New American experiences and can speak out on behalf of those who are receiving the most attacks and harshest treatments.
I think the biggest thing has been the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship community. I have made many friends within my class and the 2016 and 2018 classes, but also friends from previous classes at the 20 Year Reunion in Colorado in 2018.
My favorite memory is the impromptu Unconference event that I organized at the 20 Year Reunion in Colorado in 2018. With a few other friends, we organized a discussion on dating and relationships and had a highly memorable conversation with 20 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellows about balancing love and work, finding your significant other, and more. Most Paul & Daisy Soros Fellows are high-achievers professionally, so it was eye-opening and rewarding to relate to each other about the adventures we’ve had in our personal lives. It was a fun, relaxed conversation where people were willing to talk frankly about their funny dating stories, what they look for in a partner, and what they’re trying to improve on to become a better partner.
Just tell your story. The part that stands out about applying for the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship versus other fellowships and scholarships is the essay on your New American experience. All of us have different stories, and I think the best way to approach the essay is to just find an honest way to tell yours. There isn’t just one type of immigrant experience in America nor is there just one type of Paul & Daisy Soros Fellow. Thus, I think the best advice is to express your story as clearly as possible and relate where you came from to where you want to go.
I’m hoping to graduate in two years with my PhD. My current research looks at how politicians and other political actors reach voters online through ads on Facebook and Google. My hope is to publish my findings soon and release an online tool, the Political Ads Library, that journalists, researchers, and voters can use to search through the three million ads I have in the database to provide transparency on the actions of our politicians and political campaigns.
Ultimately, I think the Fellowship represents what it means to be an immigrant in 2019. We all come from diverse roots and are pursuing a plethora of degrees in different fields such as medicine, law, art, music, political science, computer science, and many more. Yet we also share many things in common. Not only are there commonalities in the immigrant experience from our past but we’re all facing the same pressures and attacks on immigrants that are being broadcast daily from the country’s political leaders. Thus, the Fellowship represents how being an immigrant in America today is a lifelong status that will be lauded and disparaged by different parts of America.