From Refugee to Scholar
Apr 28, 2021 — Atlanta, GA
Story by Janat Batra, College of Engineering
At 10 years old, Biya Haile began volunteering at automotive garages and working in his dad’s workshop in his hometown of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. But because of corruption and ethnic discrimination, Haile had to leave all interests behind as his family immigrated to the United States and worked to build a new life.
Now, the natural-born engineer is graduating in the spring with a degree in mechanical engineering and has been honored with the prestigious Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans, a national merit-based graduate fellowship for immigrants and the children of immigrants.
In the fall, Haile will enter the Ph.D. program in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Georgia Tech as the first Soros fellow ever to pursue a graduate degree at Tech.
“The Fellowship will open a lot of doors for me to access and pursue my ultimate dreams,” Haile said. “Most of all, it’s going to help me to network with people who are like me, who understand my experience of being an American and being in the United States.”
The fellowship was founded in 1997 by Paul and Daisy Soros, Hungarian philanthropists and immigrants, as a way to give back to the country to which their families immigrated and which granted them new opportunities. This fellowship not only gives back to the community but also honors the growing generations of immigrants in the United States and their contributions to society.
“When I arrived in the States, I felt welcome to embrace my academic aspirations along with my cultural and social identity simultaneously,” Haile said.
College of Engineering