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Three Yale Law School Students Named Soros Fellows

Three Yale Law School students have been named Paul & Daisy Soros New American Fellows for 2009. Carel Alé ’11, Andres Idarraga ’11, and Alexandru Iftimie ’11 are among 31 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.

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. Of the 354 individuals named Soros Fellows thus far, 42—or 12%—have been from Yale Law School. Among the Soros Fellows in J.D. programs, 42% have been from Yale Law School.

“We are delighted and honored to have our students so consistently recognized by the Paul and Daisy Soros Foundation, and grateful for the opportunity afforded, not just to our students, but to the many gifted New Americans nationwide who will help shape our country’s future,” said Yale Law School Acting Dean Kate Stith.  

The 2009 Soros Fellows were chosen from nearly 750 applicants by an independent panel that was itself made up of distinguished New Americans. Selection was 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.

The 2009 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellows from Yale Law School are:

Carel Alé is a first year J.D. candidate at Yale Law School. She received B.A. and M.A. degrees in Latin American studies from UCLA, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and graduated magna cum laude. At UCLA, she founded and was president of the university’s Make-A-Wish Foundation chapter, organized volunteer tutors at Jordan High School in Watts, and was active in the campus Darfur Action Committee. Carel’s research and thesis focused on the philosophical and ideological underpinnings of the Mexican Revolution and its manifestations within the governance of the Partído Revolucionario Institucional. She has also done extensive work on Caribbean female migration. She interned at the California Lieutenant Governor’s office and Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, where she headed a national research initiative addressing issues of higher education for undocumented students. Among other activities at Yale Law School, she contributed to the writing of an amicus brief for a Louisiana death row inmate. She was born in Mexico City to Mexican and Cuban parents and moved to southern California as a young girl. Carel is planning on a career as a public prosecutor, using prosecution as a tool for social change.

Andres Idarraga is a first-year J.D. candidate at Yale Law School. He was born in Medellin, Colombia, and joined his father in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, when he was 8. He received a B.A. in economics and comparative literature from Brown University, where he was a Mellon Mays undergraduate fellow. While at Brown, he worked on the Rhode Island Right to Vote campaign, which focused on ending felony disenfranchisement in Rhode Island. The campaign, which partnered with the Brennan Center at New York University and the American Civil Liberties Union, was successful. At Yale Law School, he organized a debate on successes and failures of the charter school movement and on the nascent incentive-based programs that pay students for performance on standardized tests. He is writing an essay for an upcoming book called Latino Men to Latino Young Men. He plans to work in the education field as a litigator, researcher, or advocate, with a special interest in education equality.

Alexandru Iftimie is a first-year J.D. candidate at Yale Law School. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California, where he earned a B.A. summa cum laude in international relations, with a minor in communications law and media policy. He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Alexandru is a native of Bucharest, Romania. He came to the U.S. when he was 12 and is now a naturalized citizen. While growing up in Romania and listening to Radio Free Europe’s “Youth Reports,” he became convinced of the importance of debate to civil society. In high school and college in the U.S., he participated on and captained debate teams, as well as serving as a debate coach and judge. Before entering Yale Law School, he worked on the Obama campaign, first as a field organizer in Nevada and Arizona, then as an early vote director, and finally as the campaign’s get-out-the-vote director in Nebraska. Alexandru plans to pursue a career in international law and public interest.