Laila Ujayli has been busy the past few years. She graduated summa cum laude from The Ohio State University in 2018, with majors in English and international relations along with minors in screenwriting and business; earned two master’s degrees from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar; and started her first year at Harvard Law School. Now, she’ll be adding the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans to her list of accolades and achievements.
The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans is a $90,000 merit-based fellowship exclusively for immigrants and children of immigrants who are pursuing graduate school in the United States. The Fellowship opens doors for recipients, both by easing the financial burden of graduate school and by providing Fellows with a strong sense of community. Nikka Landau, the director of communications and strategic initiatives for the Fellowship, is passionate about the program’s multifaceted benefits. The financial assistance, she notes, can help Fellows take risks and pursue opportunities that would otherwise be unavailable to them. And, even more special, she says, the Fellowship “really confirms for people they are on the right path. When you’re pursuing your dream, it’s really helpful to know that other people are behind you, and really right there with you; the Fellowship gives people a community of other people who are in graduate school in all different fields, all over the country, who are all New Americans." Ujayli echoed this sentiment, saying that “what’s really special about this Fellowship is it’s for immigrants and children of immigrants, so it’s such an amazing community that represents the best of American diversity and really shows…across all these different disciplines what first- and second-generation Americans are doing.” Furthermore, the program itself fosters a strong sense of community among Fellows, past and present, from the personal phone call that Daisy Soros makes to each Fellow to let them know they’re accepted, to the fall conferences that Fellows attend, to the many ways that Fellowship alumni reach out to current Fellows to offer congratulations and insight.