Six Indian-Americans are among 30 people from 20 countries who have won 2012 Paul and Daisy Soros New American Fellowships to pursue advanced degrees.
Jasmeet Ahuja, Sahil Singh Gujral, Victor Roy, Indra Sen, Vinit Singal and Rina Thomas will together receive $90,000 in tuition and support for two years of graduate study in the United States in any field. Paul and Daisy Soros, immigrants from Hungary, set up the program to honor the contributions of immigrants to the United States
According to information on the Soros website, Ahuja was born in California and is pursuing a law degree at Yale University. After graduating with honors and Phi Beta Kappa from Stanford University with M.S. and B.S. degrees in engineering, Ahuja accepted an appointment as a Presidential Management Fellow at the Office of the Secretary of Defense in the Pentagon. She went on to serve as the director of South Asia in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs at the State Department and as a professional staff member on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. While at the White House, Ahuja helped craft foreign policy legislation on aid to Pakistan, negotiate the civil-nuclear deal with India and lobby for Sikh Americans to wear turbans while serving in the United States military, her bio data on the website said. She also served as the chair of the Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership, a non-profit dedicated to building leadership within the Asian-American community. Upon completing her studies at Yale, she plans to continue her work in foreign affairs.
Gujral, who will use his grant to support a law degree and/or an MBA, was born in Houston. According to his bio data, Singh grew up with a chronic health condition and that informed his perspectives on health care. He entered Rice University when he was 16 and graduated magna cum laude with a degree in economics. Selected to intern at the White House after graduation, mentors urged him to further develop his ideas for financing health care. Gujral is pursuing his health insurance financing ideas while working as a senior analyst for Alice Schroeder, a Wall Street insurance veteran and private investor who wrote “Snowball,” the official biography of Warren Buffett, the website said.
Roy, who was born in New Jersey, was awarded the scholarship to support ongoing study toward an M.D. at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. His commitment to medicine was inspired by his physician grandfather, whom he shadowed in a rural clinic in West Bengal, his bio data on the website said. Roy enrolled in Northwestern University’s seven-year combined B.A./M.D. program. He has worked with indigenous Mayans in Guatemala, street children in West Bengal and villagers in rural Ghana. Those experiences led him to co-found GlobeMed, an organization that partners student-led chapters with community-based organizations to improve the health of people living in poverty. Deferring medical school, Roy became the full-time executive director of GlobeMed. Today, the company engages more than 1,500 students at 46 universities and has completed over 150 projects worldwide.
A Gates Cambridge Scholarship funded his M.Phil. research on the way various classical social theories can be applied to an analysis of global health policy. In the fall of 2010, he resumed his medical training at Northwestern, the website said.
Sen, was born in Norwalk, Conn., to an Indian father and Chinese mother. He will use the grant to support a master’s in public policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, according to his bio data. He studied culture and politics at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. He won a Truman Scholarship, was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and was a recipient of the Thomas P. McTighe Prize, the university’s highest honor. Sen co-founded Inspire Dreams, a nonprofit that has been recognized by former President Bill Clinton for its work in providing education programs to more than 700 Palestinian refugee youth in the West Bank. As executive director, Sen has lived and worked in several refugee camps in the Palestinian territories. A rapper and a poet, he has performed at more than 30 benefit concerts, the website said.
Singal, who was born in India, moved as a 10-year-old to Saudi Arabia. He is pursuing an MD at the Mayo Clinic School of Medicine. From India, the family moved to New Zealand, where he was bullied because of his accent, glasses and obesity. When he was 14, the family moved to the Bronx, N.Y., where he focused on academics and public speaking, his bio data said.
He soon became a nationally ranked high school debater and later founded and became executive director of a patient-education nonprofit that has raised more than $250,000 to support a network of volunteers who provide health education to patients at free clinics around the country. Working with a professor at the Stanford Business School, he also became student leader of a national effort that has signed up more than 100,000 individuals in a bone-marrow registry. This year, as a Stanford senior, Singal is the student representative on the university’s board of trustees. In March, he was awarded the Immigrant Youth Achievement Award by the American Immigration Council.
Thomas, who is pursuing a law degree at Harvard Law School, was born in New Orleans. She attended a Catholic high school and was valedictorian of her class. She began her undergraduate work at the University of Pennsylvania.
After Hurricane Katrina devastated her home city, she began fundraising for victims through the Wharton School’s student council, according to her bio data.
She created a program that connected undergraduate business students to the hurricane recovery efforts. After graduating with a joint B.A./B.S. in international studies and business, she returned to Louisiana to work with the state’s Department of Economic Development on projects designed to reverse the state’s brain drain and to combat its high rates of poverty. She deferred her admission to Harvard in order to accept a position as Gov. Bobby Jindal’s adviser on economic development, taxes and budget policy. Her current projects include passing economic development and public pension reforms through the state legislature, the website said.