Ellora Thadaney Israni ’19 was among 30 recipients selected to receive the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans, the premier graduate school fellowship for immigrants and children of immigrants. Israni’s parents immigrated from India.
This year’s recipients, called “fellows,” were selected from a pool of 1,775 applicants for their potential to make significant contributions to US society, culture, or their academic field. They will each receive up to $90,000 in stipend and tuition support to pursue graduate studies at U.S. universities.
Israni was born and raised in the Bay Area, and studied computer science at Stanford University. At Stanford, she cofounded the university’s first conference for women in technology, she++, to address the gender disparities she experienced in her classes. The conference has since grown into a nonprofit, supporting chapters of young women in engineering around the world. The award-winning she++ documentary is currently touring with the U.S. Department of State’s American Film Showcase.
After graduation, she moved to New York City as a software engineer for Facebook and helped start the company’s civic engagement efforts, which use the platform to give people a voice in public affairs. Her team helped two million additional Americans register to vote in 2016. She also led Facebook NYC’s efforts to build, grow, and support diversity in engineering.
Israni hopes to use her law degree to help improve justice in the U.S. by working at the interdisciplinary overlap of tech and law.
Past recipients of the Soros Fellowship include Aya Saed ’17, Harvard Law School Professor Jeannie Suk Gersen, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, leading Ebola researcher Pardis Sabeti, Oscar health insurance co-founder Kevin Nazemi and more than 500 other leaders.
The Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans were established to help immigrants to continue to make a positive impact on the nation. The selection is based upon rigorous criteria that include academic performance and leadership skills.