Burmese journalist wins Soros Fellowship for New Americans

Journalist Kyaw Hsan Hlaing, who exposed the realities of violence perpetrated by the military in his native Myanmar, has been awarded a Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans to support his work toward a Ph.D. in political science at Cornell.

Kyaw Hsan Hlaing

Kyaw Hsan is among the 30 immigrants or children of immigrants selected from more than 2,300 applicants for their drive, creativity, intellectual spirit and commitment to the values at the heart of the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights. Soros fellows receive up to $90,000 toward their graduate education. 

He plans to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Asian studies from the University of Hawai‘i, Mānoa in summer 2024, after which he will begin his studies at Cornell. 

Born and raised in a small village in rural Myanmar, Kyaw Hsan studied by candlelight and became the first person in his family to graduate from high school. He had to drop out of college due to poverty, and after a year working as a migrant laborer in China, he returned to a Myanmar roiled by a humanitarian crisis and armed conflict. 

He took up journalism in 2020, writing about COVID-19 and the armed rebellion in western Myanmar. His stories were eventually published by Foreign Policy, TIME, Al Jazeera, The Los Angeles Times and other international outlets. He continued reporting on human rights violations and democratic movements but was forced to flee. He was granted political asylum in the U.S. and resettled there in 2022. 

He plans to focus his doctoral studies on political regimes, violence and transitions, particularly in fragile states. 

Past fellows include U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy; Olympians Amy Chow and Patricia Miranda; U.S. Ambassador to Spain and Andorra Julissa Reynoso Pantaleón; Stanford AI leader Fei-Fei Li; and composer Paola Prestini. 

Media Contact

Lindsey Knewstub