Alumna Receives Prestigious Fellowship

$90,000 award supports training in women’s health

Nazanin Yeganeh Kazemi, (BS, ’15, Biology and Chemistry) received a Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans of $90,000 to support her MD/PhD training in medicine and immunology at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine.

The merit-based Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowships are exclusively for immigrants and children of immigrants who are pursuing graduate degrees in the United States. This year the program received more than 2,400 applications for 30 fellowships.

Kazemi was working from home in Switzerland, where she is serving as a United States Fulbright Scholar, when she received the news.

“After spending the morning setting up my experiments in the lab, I was working on a manuscript in my flat here in Geneva when I got the phone call from Daisy Soros and Craig Harwood. It was such a joy to hear their voices and to receive the news in such a personal way.”

Kazemi says her success has been hard-earned.

“My parents and I moved to the United States from Iran in 1999,” Kazemi said. “Between the three of us, we knew about two words of English. I only knew how to say, ‘Hello.’"

She says her parents’ first priority was always her education and that her success is a culmination of their sacrifices.

"As a first-generation college student and first-generation immigrant, I have always known that education is the biggest privilege," Kazemi says.

Kazemi is pursuing her doctorate in immunology with a focus on women’s health.

“The health of women all over the world has undeniable implications for the health of every facet of our society from the health and success of our future generations to the global economy,” Kazemi says. “Moreover, we live in an era where, despite women all around the world making amazing progress toward our rights and fair treatment, we still face a great deal of prejudice and abuse. I am dedicated to women's health because I believe in a world where every woman feels safe, respected and treated fairly and is able to pursue her goals without fear.”

"As a first-generation college student and first-generation immigrant, I have always known that education is the biggest privilege." - Nazanin Yeganeh Kazemi

While the fellowship helps to fund her training, she is excited about other aspects of the program.

“It’s a truly unique fellowship that helps awardees reach their goals in many aspects of life through the connection with over two decades of alumni.  I’m just thrilled to get to know the other fellows!” she says. “There are so many amazing recipients of this award and I’m excited for the friendships and colleagues I’ll get to have. The current and past recipients have backgrounds, goals and interests that are similar to mine, which is a rare feeling as an immigrant.”

Kazemi says she never could have imagined this opportunity when she immigrated to the United States.

“Never in a million years would I have imagined I would be here! Being an immigrant in the U.S. is a unique experience filled with the greatest potential for opportunity, but it can also be a very challenging experience. I am grateful to my parents, teachers, and mentors who have helped me make it this far.”