Two Duke Alumni Awarded Soros Fellowships for New Americans

Kaveh Danesh and Sanjay Kishore are among 30 new recipients nationwide

Kaveh Danesh and Sanjay Kishore will do graduate study with a Soros Fellowship.
Kaveh Danesh and Sanjay Kishore will do graduate study with a Soros Fellowship.

Kaveh Danesh and Sanjay Kishore, two young alumni of Duke University, are among 30 recipients nationwide of the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans.

The Soros Fellowships, established in 1997, award $90,000 to immigrants and children of immigrants to complete graduate studies in the United States. Applicants may propose graduate work in any discipline, and are selected based on their potential to make significant contributions to American society, culture, or their academic field. This year’s winners were selected from a pool of 1,775 applicants. 

“Kaveh Danesh and Sanjay Kishore are both superb examples of young people who maximized the opportunities of Duke,” said Duke President Richard H. Brodhead. “I know that their energy and initiative, as well as the formative intellectual experiences they sought out here, will carry them far.” 

Danesh, a 2012 Duke graduate, will use his award to support work toward a Ph.D. in economics at the University of California at Berkeley. He also plans to pursue a medical degree at the University of California, San Francisco. A Seattle native, Danesh graduated from Duke with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and minors in English, philosophy, Chinese, chemistry and neuroscience.

After Duke, Danesh was a Fulbright Scholar in China, received a master’s degree in statistics from Harvard University and interned at the White House. He also served as an undergraduate young trustee on Duke’s Board of Trustees from 2012 though 2015.

Danesh’s parents immigrated to the United States from Iran.

“I'm thrilled to have won the fellowship. I'm especially happy that it honors my parents, who came to this country with so little and made every sacrifice for my sister and me. They are the true winners in my book,” Danesh said. “I'm also very grateful to Duke, which raised me in a less literal but still meaningful sense: by nurturing my interests, exposing me to new ideas and introducing me to lifelong friends.”

Kishore, a 2013 Duke graduate, will use his award to support work toward a medical degree at Harvard. Kishore, from Radford, Virginia, graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Duke with a Program II major focusing on social determinants of health. After Duke, he served as the Villers Fellow at Families USA and started Commonwealth Covered, a student-run campaign to enroll Virginia residents in health insurance programs.

Kishore’s parents came to the U.S. from Hyderabad, India.

"This fellowship is a testament to my parents and my brother; everything I've ever achieved has been a function of their courage and sacrifice,” Kishore said. “I'm grateful for my mentors and peers at Duke, who have continually challenged me to not just think, but act on inequity in health care and beyond. As our nation reflects on what it truly means to be American, it is a privilege to join this community." 

The 2017 fellows, who are 30 or younger, come from a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds, and are all naturalized citizens, green card holders or the children of immigrants. Their backgrounds reflect much of the diversity of recent immigrants and refugees in the United States. The 2017 class has heritage in Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Colombia, Guyana, India, Iran, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Poland, Russia, South Korea, Suriname, Taiwan, Venezuela and Vietnam.

Hungarian immigrants Daisy M. Soros and Paul Soros (1926-2013) founded the program in 1997.

A complete list of this year’s fellowship winners can be found at