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YLS Students Isra Bhatty ’12 and Helen O’Reilly ’11 Named Soros Fellows for 2010

Two Yale Law School students have been named Paul & Daisy Soros New American Fellows for 2010. Isra Bhatty ’12 and Helen O’Reilly ’11 are among the 30 accomplished young people chosen for the honor this year. All are immigrants to the United States or the children of immigrants. Each receives half tuition for two years of graduate study—up to $16,000 per year—at any university in the United States, as well as a $20,000 annual grant.

Isra Bhatty is currently a Rhodes Scholar and D.Phil candidate at the University of Oxford, where she received an M.Sc. in evidence based social intervention with distinction last summer. After studying economics and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago, Isra went on to Yale Law School, where she will continue as a second-year student in the fall. Drawing on her family’s own experiences, Isra has organized and led efforts to promote inclusion of individuals with disabilities in the United States. As an undergraduate, Isra coordinated a number of inner-city programs on the south side of Chicago and has continued to work with at-risk youth during her time in the U.K. Isra has worked with the Department of Homeland Security on projects focused on countering radicalization and violent extremism. She aspires to combine her research at the University of Oxford and her legal training at Yale to address two problems faced by our criminal justice system: the dearth of research establishing the effectiveness of intervention initiatives, and the subsequent failure of policy makers to identify and implement proven programs. Isra and her parents are naturalized citizens.

Helen O’Reilly is a second-year J.D. candidate at Yale Law School. After graduating magna cum laude from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in 2003, she spent three years at Advocates for Children in New York City as an education advocate for detained and incarcerated youth with learning disabilities. In 2006, she was selected as a Luce Scholar, spending the next two years in Manila and Hong Kong as an advocate for migrant domestic workers. Currently, Helen is a member of the Immigration and Legal Services Clinic and the Workers and Immigration Rights Advocacy Clinic at Yale Law School. In addition, she co-directed the 16th Annual Yale Rebellious Lawyering Conference and served as co-student director of the San Francisco Affirmative Litigation Project at Yale. She spent her first summer at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York, in the Public Integrity Division. Raised in Jackson Heights, Queens, to naturalized parents from Ireland, Helen also speaks fluent Spanish.

The fellowship program for New Americans was established by Hungarian immigrants Paul and Daisy Soros in 1997 as a way to “give back” to the country that had afforded them and their children great opportunities. The awards support graduate study by naturalized citizens, resident aliens, or the children of naturalized citizens.

The Fellows are chosen by an independent panel that is itself made up of distinguished New Americans. Selection is based on the candidates’ creativity, originality, and initiative; commitment to and capacity for accomplishment; commitment to the values expressed in the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights; and the relevance of graduate study to the candidate’s long-term goals.