P.D. Soros Fellowship for New Americans


2023 Fellows: Announcement in the New York Times

Jasmine Singh

Every year, The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans takes out a full page advertisement in the New York Times to announce the new class of Paul & Daisy Soros Fellows. Here are the 2023 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellows and their families with the advertisement. 

  • Adriana Liimakka PD Soros NY Times Photo

    2023 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellow Adriana Liimakka is an immigrant from Colombia. Her mother taught her that education was the greatest equalizer, which inspired her passion for learning. Adriana moved to the United States after high school to attend Columbia University where she studied biomedical engineering. In college, she conducted research in musculoskeletal mechanics under the mentorship of Professors Edward Guo and Peter Walker and was recognized with the Excellence in Biomedical Engineering award. Her creation of an oxygen blending device for neonatal ICUs in Kampala, Uganda was awarded a VentureWell E-Team grant to support innovations focused on creating social impact. She also worked as a Spanish medical interpreter in Harlem and the Bronx. Adriana’s advocacy resulted in a King’s Crown Leadership Award for Health and Wellness and being named a Senior Marshal for her graduating class. Adriana is pursuing a joint MD program at MIT-Harvard and an MBI at Harvard.

  • Ashri Anurudran PD Soros NY Times Photo

    2023 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellow Ashri Anurudran is our first Sri Lankan Paul & Daisy Soros Fellow. She was into a family of Sri Lankan Tamil amid the 26-year Sri Lankan Civil War. For almost a decade, Ashri has committed to elevating the voices of survivors of gender-based violence through prevention, research, and advocacy. From war zones in Sri Lanka to her classrooms at Harvard, Ashri has partnered with diverse communities to implement violence prevention strategies. During the pandemic, she started the COVID-19 Taskforce on Domestic Violence, a nonprofit to investigate, educate, and advocate on behalf of survivors. As an aspiring physician-advocate and leader in global gender justice, Ashri believes the healthcare treatment of survivors serves as stress test for the system, a way to measure our society’s standard of gender equity. Thus, Ashri remains committed to bridging the gap between survivors’ lived experiences and global health practice. Ashri is pursuing an MD at Harvard University.

  • Zhanlin Chen and Recommender NY Times Ad Photo

    2023 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellow Zhanlin Chen is pictured with Dr. Constance Adams in front of Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine. He is an immigrant from China, identifying as a member of the Hakka sub-ethnic group. When Zhanlin was 12 years old, he immigrated to the U.S. with his mother, who worked as a cancer biologist at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. While volunteering in the Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt University, he witnessed the passing of a little girl with brain cancer, which inspired him to pursue a future career in medicine. Zhanlin is pursuing an MD at Northwestern University.

  • Dhruv Gaur PD Soros NY Times Ad

    2023 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellow Dhruv Gaur is the son of immigrants from India. It was his parents that instilled in him a lifelong love of learning and a commitment to serving his community. In 2018, Dhruv participated in the televised Jeopardy! College Championship trivia tournament, winning the competition and $100,000. In 2019, he appeared on Jeopardy! again, and gained national attention for showing support for host Alex Trebek, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He used this attention to promote a national fundraising campaign for pancreatic cancer research, raising over $100,000. Dhruv is pursuing an PhD in Economics at MIT.

  • Arjun Menta NY Times

    2023 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellow Arjun Menta is the child of immigrants from India. Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, Arjun found a mentor in Anjan Panneer Selvam, who exposed him to the marvels and challenges of modern medicine. A prolific researcher and inventor, Arjun holds multiple patents and publications, with his works appearing in many reputable journals, including IEEE, Surgical Clinics, Chemistry of Materials, Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, Frontiers in Oncology, and Trends in Cancer. Arjun is pursuing an MD at Johns Hopkins University.

  • Cinthia Zavala Ramos holding ny times ad smiling.

    2023 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellow Cinthia Zavala Ramos is an immigrant from Honduras. Hoping to escape imminent gang violence and to join her parents who had migrated to the earlier, Cinthia, her younger siblings, and her grandma hired a coyote and made the trek on foot into the United States. Cinthia was admitted early to Yale University with full financial aid, and in May 2017, she gave a viral valedictory speech outing her status as a Dreamer, which catalyzed conversation in her state about education for undocumented students. Cinthia is pursuing a JD at New York University.

  • Freja Ekman NY Times Ad Photo

    2023 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellow Freja Ekman was born in Germany to parents from Sweden and Norway. As a college student at the University of California, Berkeley, Freja studied chemical biology, with the hopes of understanding how to harness basic chemical principles to better characterize the behavior of genetic mutations and engineer new genome editing strategies to target them. She hopes to work as a pediatric hematology/oncologist and lead her own lab focused on better understanding rare genetic diseases and gene therapy strategies to treat them. Freja is pursuing an MD/PhD at Stanford University.

  • Jaspreet Kaur Holding NY Times Ad with Parents

    2023 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellow Jaspreet Kaur is standing next to her parents who immigrated from India. At Harvard College, Jaspreet double majored in folklore and mythology and theater, dance, and media where she learned how to incorporate oral storytelling and ethnography into her artistic practice. She graduated magna cum laude as the only Sikh student and one of six DACAmented students in the Harvard College class of 2021.Jaspreet founded Brown Girl Joy Productions, a production and consulting agency, alongside Amritpal Kaur and Amandeep Kaur to create intersectional, innovative, and transformative media centering underserved communities. Jaspreet is pursuing an MFA in Writing for Screen and Television at the University of Southern California.

  • jermaine holding nyt ad at annenberg school for communication building asc

    2023 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellow Jermaine Anthony Richards is seen standing with the New York Times advertisement in front of the University of Southern California, Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism building. Jermaine was born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in the Canarsie residential neighborhood by his mother and grandmother, who are immigrants from Jamaica. A third-generation CUNY graduate, Jermaine completed his BS at CUNY York College in communications technology––a major joining computer science, information systems, and design. Jermaine has led research as a New America Fellow on Digital Transformation Opportunities and Challenges in the Lower Mekong Region, supported by the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Cyber and Critical Tech Cooperation Program. He is also an award-winning social impact entertainment producer: He produced the popular game Hair Nah™, which bolsters conversations on haptic, racial microaggressions and anti-hair discrimination laws, such as the CROWN Act, moving through the nation’s courts. Jermaine is pursuing a PhD in communications at the University of Southern California.

  • juliet nwagwu NY Times Ad

    2023 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellow Juliet Nwagwu Ume-Ezeoke is an immigrant from Nigeria. Juliet’s mother, a human rights lawyer, had grown up in the aftermath of the Biafran War, another turbulent era in the country’s history, and instilled in Juliet a passion for advocacy and a love of learning. At Harvard College, Juliet studied mechanical engineering and computer science, honing her systems thinking skills. She applied these skills in Engineers without Borders, leading a project in the Dominican Republic focused on building water infrastructure in tandem with a farming community. This project showed her both the complexity and importance of centering people in engineering. Juliet is pursuing a PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University.

  • Nathan Mallipeddi NY Times Ad

    2023 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellow Nathan Mallipeddi is the child of immigrants from India. With his parents working full-time, Nathan was sent to live with his grandparents in Andhra Pradesh for three years, where he learned from his grandmother the importance of grit and resilience. When Nathan rejoined his parents in the San Jose Bay Area, he learned to greatly appreciate both his family’s courage and the crucial support provided by thriving immigrant communities. As an undergraduate at UCLA, Nathan believed that great insights could be found at the intersection of varying sectors, and pursued projects in biology and public policy, including helping discover a novel function of histone proteins as copper reductase enzymes, building a policy framework to understand how disabilities are defined and operationalized, and developing public policy programs that provide employment opportunities to persons with disabilities in Los Angeles. After graduating, Nathan pursued a Fulbright Scholarship in India, where he assessed metrics across access to care, physical health, and mental illness among persons with disabilities. As a proud person who stutters, Nathan founded Myspeech, an international nonprofit organization that utilizes technology to stratify patients who stutter into treatment cohorts, where the platform facilitates access to personalized speech therapy, crucial community resources, and meaningful persons connections. Nathan is pursuing an MD at Harvard University and an MBA at Stanford University.

  • kat mit professor siniša hrvatin in his office at the whitehead institute

    2023 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellow Kathrin (Kat) Kajderowicz taking a photo with Professor Siniša Hrvatin in his office at the Whitehead Institute. Having escaped communist Poland in the early 1980s, her parents had no savings, college degrees, or knowledge of English—which translated to limited job prospects in America. Kat’s mother worked as a housekeeper, while her father worked in construction. As undocumented immigrants fighting to obtain green cards, they spent most of their savings on the American naturalization process and rarely sought medical care because they couldn’t afford insurance and feared deportation. To help financially, Kat began working as a golf caddie at age 14. As an undergraduate at Cornell University, Kat studied both biological sciences and science and technology studies while working at the Lab of Ornithology where she built computational pipelines to better understand songbird communication. During undergraduate summers at Harvard University, Kat worked on comparative genomics and population genetics projects using plants, fruit flies, and butterflies. As a post-baccalaureate researcher at Harvard Medical School, Kat built imaging tools to visualize the development of different types of mouse retinal neurons. In 2020, Kat’s father passed away from metastatic lung cancer. Kat served as his caregiver and medical proxy. Her greatest source of comfort was her hospital waiting room community. Inspired by the power of communities, Kat founded DNA Deviants, a 2,000+ member biotechnology group that hosts podcasts on Twitch to discuss breakthrough research and organizes career mentorship programs. Kat is pursuing a PhD in Neuroscience at MIT.

  • Omair Khan NY Times Photo

    2023 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellow Omair Khan is the child of immigrants from India. Growing up in in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans while experiencing prejudice and discrimination, Omair’s parents instilled in their children the importance of unrelenting resilience and hard work to aspire towards realizing the coveted American Dream. These lessons would prove to be extremely helpful for Omair in years to come. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated Omair’s hometown displacing his family for months before they resettled in Chicago, Illinois. Soon thereafter, Omair’s father suffered a life-changing brain tumor diagnosis that inspired him to pursue a career in medicine. Omair attended Yale University where he studied molecular, cellular, and developmental biology and global health studies. Building off his research exposure in high school, Omair spent four years conducting basic science research in the laboratory of Professor Richard Flavell, where he studied T-cell metabolism and mucosal immunology, culminating in authorship on two scientific papers published in Nature. Omair is pursuing an MD/PhD at Stanford University.

  • Philsan Isaak NY Times Ad taken in blaine minnesota

    2023 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellow Philsan Isaak in Blaine, Minnesota. Philsan is the child of immigrants from Somalia. In 1988, both of Philsan’s parents fled Somalia due to the escalating civil war and Isaaq Genocide. In 1999, after over a decade apart, they reunited in Minnesota, where they married and settled down. Inspired by her parents’ determination to create a better life for their children, Philsan became committed to using the law as an instrument to create further positive change for future generations. At 16, Philsan began full-time enrollment at the University of Minnesota. As she learned more about the sociopolitical factors that contribute to genocide and forced displacement, she began to see her parents’ experiences in a new light. Their experiences no longer seemed like horrifying exceptions to the rule; they were examples of a covert system of human rights abuses. Philsan completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Minnesota at just 18. Eager to learn the law and its role in rectifying rights violations globally, she immediately began at Yale Law School, where she is among the youngest JD candidates in attendance.

  • Shyamala Ramakrishna NY Times Ad

    2023 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellow Shyamala Ramakrishna is the child of immigrants from India. As an undergraduate at Yale College, Shyamala was a scholar in the selective Multidisciplinary Academic Program in Human Rights with a focus on arts and advocacy. She music directed Shades, a singing group that centers Black musical traditions and conducts vocal music workshops at underserved public schools around the United States. She worked in legal research at the American Civil Liberties Union and in arts administration at the Asian American Arts Alliance. Her experiences informed a desire to prioritize grassroots labor movements and people-led economic justice struggle as critical to all forms of social change. She is also the lead vocalist in her band, FORAGER, selling out venues in New York City and beyond. Shyamala is pursuing a JD at Yale Law School.

  • Steven Truong NY Times Ad 2 favorite machines the mass spectrometer and nanodrop machine

    2023 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellow Steven Truong standing next to one of his favorite machines. Steven was born in St. Paul, Minnesota to Vietnamese refugees. After years of working as laborers in America, Steven’s entire extended family pooled their resources to start a family-owned nail salon, which is running to this day. Steven spent his evenings after school at the salon, where he assisted in the business’s operations and finished homework between helping customers. His childhood at the salon instilled in him an enduring work ethic. During his undergraduate years at MIT, Steven worked in the Langer-Anderson Lab to develop smart insulins and in the Lauffenburger Lab to study the link between the immune system and diabetes. With fellowship funding through MIT’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, he started a study investigating the genetic basis of diabetes with colleagues at the University of Medicine and Pharmacy at Ho Chi Minh City. With the Marshall Scholarship, Steven completed an MPhil in computational biology at Cambridge University and was able to continue his writing studies with an MA in creative writing at Royal Holloway, University of London. Steven is pursuing an MD/PhD at Stanford University.

  • Tan Dao with nyt pdsoros

    2023 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellow Tan Dao is an immigrant from Vietnam who grew up with limited access to technology and education, so he dreamt of the futuristic America of endless opportunities where his grandparents, aunts, and uncle lived. It wasn't until Tan turned 11 that his family came to the United States as permanent residents and reunited with their extended family. As an undergraduate at the University of New Hampshire, Tan began research in the lab of Professor Shawna Hollen, where he became interested in low-dimensional materials because of their novel electronic properties. Tan is pursuing his childhood dream as a PhD student in physics at Harvard University. Tan is working on synthesizing a new quantum material and studying its electronic properties at the atomic level in Professor Jennifer Hoffman’s lab. He is also working toward promoting higher education in STEM to students at Harvard and recent Vietnamese immigrants in Boston.

  • vaibhav mohanty

    2023 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellow Vaibhav Mohanty is the child of immigrants from India. When Vaibhav was two, he and his parents moved to Charleston, South Carolina, where Vaibhav grew up and began to gain his footing as a classical and jazz music composer, arranger, pianist, and saxophonist and as a scientific researcher. Accepted to Harvard College at age 15, Vaibhav graduated in 2019 with a master's degree in chemistry (theory) and a bachelor's degree summa cum laude in chemistry and physics and a minor in music. Vaibhav received his first PhD (DPhil) in 2022, having submitted his dissertation titled “Robustness of Evolutionary and Glassy Systems” in under two years, at the age of 22. As a composer, Vaibhav’s national award-winning large wind ensemble and chamber works have been published by JPM Music Publications (Missouri), Lighthouse Music Publications (Ontario, Canada), Radnofsky-Couper Editions (Massachusetts), and C.L. Barnhouse Publications (Iowa), and are distributed and performed regularly around the US and in many parts of the world. He also actively performs as a jazz pianist around the US. Vaibhav is pursuing a joint program at MIT-Harvard to complete his MD/PhD.

  • Shomik Verma NY Times Ad

    2023 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellow Shomik Verma is the child of immigrants from India. hether it was watching movies at Bollywood Cinema 6 on the weekends, having meals at his favorite restaurants in Hillcroft, or playing tabla at Indian classical music concerts, he always felt a deep connection to Indian culture. There was a strong emphasis on education, and on many weekends, he could be found at math competitions with fellow Asian Americans. When Shomik lost his uncle to black lung he decided it was time to devote his life to clean energy. While studying mechanical engineering at Duke University, he helped lead the Duke Electric Vehicles team to two Guinness World Records for fuel efficiency, for both battery electric and fuel cell vehicles. In the UK, as a Marshall Scholar he worked on improving the efficiency of solar cells, completing an MPhil in materials science with Professor Aron Walsh at Imperial College London on designing novel photon conversion materials using computational chemistry and machine learning, and with Professor Rachel Evans at the University of Cambridge on embedding these materials in 3D printed parts that could couple with solar cells. Shomik is pursuing a PhD in mechanical engineering at MIT.

  • Ricardo Guajardo nytimes

    2023 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellow Ricardo Guajardo is an immigrant from Mexico. Ricardo’s experience in his eighth-grade biology classroom, together with his exposure to healthcare through his mother, led to his initial interest in medicine. Ricardo went on to Stanford University, where he studied biology with a concentration in neurobiology. His freshman year, Ricardo joined Professor Liqun Luo’s laboratory, where he focused on uncovering mechanisms behind how cell-surface receptors promote the assembly of neural circuits during development. In the Luo Lab, Ricardo led an independent project studying the conserved protein Plexin B in olfactory circuit wiring, which was published in the journal eLife. Ricardo hopes to discover mechanisms by which the brain stores and processes memories in the hope of elucidating how memory processes go awry in neurodegenerative and psychiatric conditions. Ricardo is pursuing an MD at University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine.

  • Desmond Edwards NY Times

    2023 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellow Desmond Edwards is an immigrant from Jamaica. As an extremely sickly child, Desmond’s first and primary exposure to science was through the healthcare system. Whether violent and persistent asthma attacks, common and disruptive allergies, or aggressive and pervasive infections, his body and his immune system have been working on overdrive for the better part of his life. At MIT, he double majored in biological engineering and biology, with a minor in French. In school, he conducted host-pathogen research in Professor Rebecca Lamason’s lab, focusing on characterizing mutants of interest and developing novel genetic tools for use in the tick-born pathogen, Rickettsia parkeri. As an Amgen Scholar, he also worked with Professor Viviana Gradinaru at the California Institute of Technology, to engineer solutions for a novel gene therapy for Rett syndrome, a neurodevelopmental disorder primarily seen in girls. As a National Science Foundation GRFP Fellow and Jamaica’s first Knight-Hennessy Scholar, Desmond is currently a PhD student in microbiology and immunology at Stanford University’s School of Medicine researching immunity to infectious diseases.

  • Yehimi Cambron Alvarez NY Times with Family

    2023 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellow Yehimi Cambrón Álvarez is an immigrant from Mexico. She became undocumented at seven when her family immigrated and recreated a home for themselves on Buford Hwy—the multicultural heart of Atlanta. The alienating feeling of not speaking English when entering Atlanta's public schools dissipated in the art classroom, where she thrived simply by creating. Art restored her self-confidence as an immigrant child and became inseparable from her being. To wield DACA's work authorization in service to her community, Yehimi joined Teach For America (TFA), becoming one of TFA's first DACAmented educators in Georgia, and serving on their inaugural DACA Advisory Board to guide TFA's advocacy on behalf of undocumented educators, students, and families. After completing her TFA teaching commitment, Yehimi returned to her alma mater to teach high school art. She is currently a full-time artist and activist. Yehimi is pursuing an MFA in Printmedia at the School of the Art Institute at Chicago.

  • Kidist Ashami NY Times

    2023 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellow Kidist Ashami is an immigrant from Ethiopia. At the age of seven, living in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Kidist became dependent on her relatives who decided she would serve as a nanny and eventually grow up to be a maid. However, Kidist’s inquisitiveness, diligence, and enthusiasm for learning changed the course of her life—she became the first person to attend school in her immediate family. School gave Kidist the confidence to dream. At 17, she immigrated alone to the United States after winning a scholarship to participate in a yearlong exchange program. After finishing high school, Kidist received a full-tuition scholarship at Berea College in Kentucky to pursue her undergraduate studies. There, Kidist was actively involved in planning and organizing several programs that provided mentorship and mental health awareness for fellow students. After graduating summa cum laude with a degree in biology, Kidist conducted various research at Washington University in St. Louis, where she worked under Doctors John DiPersio and Jaebok Choi to develop effective therapeutic strategies for graft-versus-host disease (GvHD). Kidist is pursuing a PhD in biological and biomedical sciences at Harvard University.

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