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Grand View Alum Dekow Sagar Receives Fellowship


Dekow Sagar, a Grand View alum, has received a graduate fellowship from The Paul and Daisy Soros program.  Dekow was born in war-torn Somalia, and was only eight when militiamen from a rival tribe attacked his village and tortured and bound his father while he looked on. When the militiaman guarding them went to the latrine, Dekow cut the ropes binding his father and the two of them were able to escape.  Then, along with other survivors of the attack, they walked for a month to reach a refugee camp on the Kenyan border. Dekow resolved to excel in academics in order to survive. 

At age 16, still living in the camp, he was hired as a community health worker by Doctors Without Borders. Studying exclusively by correspondence school courses, he earned a two-year diploma at Cambridge College and won a job as a supervisor in the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and GIZ –Deusche Gesellschaft Fur Internationale Zesammenarbeit partnership operations. In 2007, after 16 years as a refugee, he was resettled in Des Moines, Iowa. There he earned a GED at Des Moines Area Community College and a BA from Grand View University. He majored in human services and political science. He has served as a delegate to the National Conference on Refugees and Immigrants in Washington, DC, and is a passionate advocate for women’s rights among refugees.

Dekow has held several supervisory positions in health, nutrition, community development, education, social work, refugees and immigration with international organizations and state governments. He will be working on MPA and MBA degrees at Drake University in September, 2012.

Announced on April 11, thirty new Americans - immigrants and children of immigrants from 20 different countries - have won the fellowships to pursue advanced degrees. Each award provides up to $90,000 in tuition and maintenance support for two years of graduate study in the United States in any field of study.

Daisy M. Soros, Chair of the Board of the Fellowship Program, said of the new Fellows, "They have been selected because of their accomplishments, drive, and vision. Paul and I are confident that they - like their 415 predecessors as Soros New American Fellows - will enrich and strengthen American society and institutions. They remind us of the key role that immigrants have played in the past and will continue to play in the future of this nation."

Mr. and Mrs. Soros, themselves immigrants from Hungary who struggled to support their graduate studies, have chosen to honor the continuing promise of immigrants by funding these awards. The current class brings to a total of 445 the mutually-supportive community of New Americans who are pursuing their individual American dreams in the sciences and humanities, medicine, law, business, public policy, and the arts. Biographical sketches and pictures of the fellows are available at www.pdsoros.org.