Sana Batool never dreamed she would have an education beyond high school when she came to the United States from Pakistan as a teenager in 2011. Now, the 2018 graduate of CUNY’s Macaulay Honors College at Lehman College has been named a winner of one of the nation’s most prestigious academic honors, a Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans.

“Sana Batool is a wonderful example of a young person who arrived in our country and succeeded beyond her own expectations with talent, determination and the support of a great public university that welcomed her with open arms,” said Interim Chancellor Vita C. Rabinowitz. “Sana’s story is CUNY’s story, and an American story. We couldn’t be more proud of her Soros Fellowship and her acceptance to medical school.”

Batool, who did not speak much English when she arrived in the U.S., was chosen as one of 30 winners of Soros Fellowships from a pool of 1,767 applicants. The $90,000 fellowships reward high achievement by immigrants and children of immigrants, who are selected on the basis of their potential to make significant contributions to American society and culture, or to their academic fields.

These fellowships were established in 1997 by Paul and Daisy Soros, Hungarian immigrants and American philanthropists who established a $50 million endowment to help high-achieving, first-generation Americans further their graduate studies.

“In addition to Sana’s outstanding research, the creativity, spirit and drive that underlies her work captivated our team of readers and panelists,” said Craig Harwood, director of the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans.

In Quetta, Batool grew up as a Hazara, a member of a Shi’a Muslim ethnic minority whose people are subjected to prejudice and terrorism. For Hazaras, dreams of upward mobility typically remain dreams and the situation is worse for women, including many who have immigrated. Batool, who majored in biochemistry and conducted graduate level research in a college laboratory, will be the first known Hazara from Quetta to attend an American medical school. She is also the first in her immediate family to attend college.

“Of my female cousins, only a few have graduated high school,” said Batool, a Flushing, Queens, resident who will attend Harvard Medical School in the fall. “And most do not work after school. They get married. I once thought that was what I would do. Being a physician was definitely not something I thought about. I did not interact with physicians who were Hazaras. You do not think that role is achievable if you have never seen someone like you in that role.”

When she received news of the honor, Batool was in the lab working on research involving human lymphoma and leukemia. “I felt joy, relief and happiness all at once,” she said.

The City University of New York is the nation’s leading urban public university. Founded in 1847, CUNY counts 13 Nobel Prize and 24 MacArthur (“Genius”) grant winners among its alumni. CUNY students, alumni and faculty have garnered scores of other prestigious honors over the years in recognition of historic contributions to the advancement of the sciences, business, the arts and myriad other fields. The University comprises 25 institutions: 11 senior colleges, seven community colleges, William E. Macaulay Honors College at CUNY, CUNY Graduate Center, Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY, CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies, CUNY School of Law, CUNY School of Professional Studies and CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy. The University serves more than 275,000 degree-seeking students. CUNY offers online baccalaureate and master’s degrees through the School of Professional Studies.

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