HIAS Scholarship Program 2011 Distributes $330,000 to 139 Deserving Students

Posted on Wed, Jun 29, 2011 at 15:59 pm

2011 HIAS Scholars

(New York, NY) – This year, on the 130th anniversary of its founding, HIAS, the international migration agency of the American Jewish community, is distributing $330,000 in scholarship awards to 139 deserving immigrants in the U.S. and Israel. HIAS’ annual scholarships were initiated in 1974 and have since grown into a robust program that has awarded more than $3 million in scholarships to more than 3,500 HIAS-assisted immigrants to help fund their higher education.

Building on its 37-year-track record, the scholarship program now has evolved into HIAS Scholars, a program that incorporates a community engagement component that will support and enable awardees to achieve their educational goals, build social and professional networks, develop new skills, and assume leadership roles in their communities and on their campuses. HIAS Scholars will leverage their unique understanding of the immigrant experience to create or participate in community service projects directly serving, or advocating on behalf of, local immigrants and refugees.

Of the 60 recipients in the U.S. this year, twenty two attended the recent awards ceremony in NY. There will be additional programs in Los Angeles and Israel later in the year.

Recipients from the New York area were largely from the FSU and Iran and were a diverse group that represented a variety of interests and future professions, including Elina Akselrud, originally from Ukraine, who is an advanced piano student at Mannes College of Music; Simon Hanukai, originally from Ajerbaijan, a drama student at Columbia University; and Yousha Yaghoobzadeh, originally from Shiraz, Iran, a medical student at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. For a full list of recipients, please visit: http://us.hias.org/en/pages/2011-hias-scholars.

Yelena Belorusets, originally from Ukraine and a student in biology and sociology at Stony Brook University, was the first recipient of the newly established Michael B. Rukin Memorial Scholarship Award. Rukin, HIAS’ immediate past chairman, died unexpectedly earlier in the year; three of his four daughters were on hand to present the award honoring their father, who was a lifelong Jewish leader from the Boston area.

Keynote speaker Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny, New York’s first elected official from the Russian émigré community and a former HIAS client, spoke movingly to the HIAS Scholars: “I hope my story will inspire others. I hope your involvement with HIAS and with the Jewish community is just the beginning…and I hope whatever you do, you’ll be part of the team, the American team. At the same time you can be a great American and be proud of your heritage.”