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Soros Fellowship


UC Riverside Alumna Wins Prestigious Award

Janine Joseph, a poet and graduate student, receives a Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans.

(April 23, 2009)

Janine JosephEnlarge

Janine Joseph

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Janine Joseph, a graduate of the University of California, Riverside, has won a Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans.

She is one of 31 graduate students – all immigrants or the children of immigrants – named a 2009 Soros fellowship winner. The award pays half of the tuition for two years of graduate study – up to $16,000 per year – at a U.S. university and living expenses of $20,000 per year.

Joseph, 26, is a first-year Ph.D. candidate in literature and creative writing at the University of Houston, Texas, where she also teaches composition. She earned a bachelor’s degree in creative writing at UCR, summa cum laude with upper division honors, and a master of fine arts degree at New York University.

In the year between completing her M.F.A. in poetry and enrolling at the University of Houston, Joseph worked as a counselor at NYU’s Opportunity Programs. She previously taught creative writing at NYU and was a teaching fellow for the Starworks Foundation, a nonprofit that teaches creative writing to hospitalized children. She also interned as a teaching artist with the Community~Word Project in New York City.

Joseph was admitted to UCR with the Chancellor’s Performance Award for Creative Writing, a scholarship, and was a fellow in the Gluck Fellows Program of the Arts, the university’s premier arts outreach program.

Born in Manila, the Philippines, Joseph came to the United States with her family at the age of 8. She graduated from La Sierra High School in Riverside and earned an A.A. with Great Distinction at Riverside Community College before transferring to UCR.

The Soros fellowship will allow her time to focus on her writing, she said.

“I have never had the opportunity to simply complete my studies and just write,” Joseph said. “I was always trying to piece together enough funds to pay for college and graduate school.”

She hopes to use the time to finish a collection of poems, tentatively titled “Human Archipelago,” which focuses on the often untold experiences of undocumented immigrants. She also is working on a series of personal essays.

Her poems have appeared in such journals as Third Coast, Spoon River Poetry Review, Nimrod International Journal, Fugue and Calabash. She is a senior poetry reader for Gulf Coast: A Journal of Literature and Fine Arts at the University of Houston and has served as layout and design editor for Washington Square. She is a fellow of the Kundiman poetry organization for Asian-American poets.

Joseph said her experience at UC Riverside helped to launch her career as a poet and teacher.

“Before coming to UCR, I was a writer with a lot of direction, but no craft. I am forever indebted to the professors and classmates with whom I studied for shaping me into the kind of poet, researcher, student, and teacher I am today,” she said.

The Soros fellowship program is funded by income from a charitable trust of $65 million created by Paul and Daisy Soros of New York City and New Canaan, Conn. Fellows are selected using several criteria: the relevance of graduate study to the individual’s long-term goals; creativity, originality and initiative demonstrated in any area of the applicant’s life; commitment to and capacity for accomplishment, demonstrated through activity that has required drive and sustained effort; and commitment to the values expressed in the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.

To date, 354 fellowships have been awarded. Previous winners include authors, composers, patent-holders, musicians, federal law clerks, doctors, lawyers, and educators.

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