The John Loiello AFSOAS FISHL Scholarship

The John Loiello AFSOAS FISHL Scholarship established by AFSOAS is named after John Loiello, a founding Board member and benefactor of AFSOAS who sadly passed away in 2013. The purpose of the scholarship is to give an American student the life-changing opportunity to study a full-time, one-year taught Master's programme at SOAS in London.

The total value of the scholarship is up to USD $30,000, depending on the cycle. Tuition fees are deducted from this amount and the remainder may be used towards other expenses. In addition, an accommodation scholarship is provided by the Friends of International Students’ House (FISH) for the student to live at the International Students’ House (ISH) in central London, plus a small contribution in food vouchers at ISH.

To-date, there have been 6 John Loiello AFSOAS FISHL scholarship recipients - Cristina Leifson (2014-2015), Bethel Moges (2015-2016), Donya Nasser (2016-2017), Sherin Nassar (2017-2018), Cynthia Magallanes-Gutierrez (2018-2019), and Montita Sowapark (2019-2020).


Eligible Programmes

  • Any full-time, one-year taught Master's programme at SOAS.

  • Two year programmes are not eligible

  • Part-time programmes are not eligible

Candidate Criteria

  • Applicants must have an unconditional or conditional offer to study for a full-time, one-year taught Master's programme at SOAS in the academic year 2017-18 by the scholarship deadline

  • Applicants who are studying on a Master’s programme or have been awarded a Master’s degree are not eligible to apply.

  • Applicants must clearly demonstrate financial need. Priority will be given to those with the lowest adjusted gross income (AGI) from last year. Important: applicants must submit their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by 1 April 2017 and indicate SOAS as a School.

  • Applicants who are the first in their family to go to university or who come from a challenging financial background are encouraged to apply for the scholarship.

  • Applicants must have graduated from a US high school and have obtained their undergraduate degree at a US College or University.

  • Applicants must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

  • Applicants must have an unweighted GPA of at least 3.50 in their undergraduate degree.

  • Applicants must provide clear intentions of how they would plan to give back to SOAS as a student and as an alumni

Candidate Assessment

  • Candidates will be assessed on the quality of their application by a Selection Panel consisting of three academic members.

  • The assessment of your application will be based on the quality of the information provided in your scholarship application and in your on-line application for admission.

  • Selectors will be looking at the degree results and also at academic references, statement and other relevant information including financial information as determined by the data submitted on your FAFSA.

  • Selectors will look at the clarity of your goals at both SOAS and beyond

  • Selectors will consider relevant extra-curricular involvement and leadership experience

  • Selectors will require clear intentions of how you plan to give back to SOAS as a student and as an alumni

Scholarship Application Deadline

  • Scholarship applications for the 2018 cycle have not yet opened; please check back for more information

Notification of Results

  • Successful candidates will be notified by early May 2018. If you have not heard from us by early May, you should assume that your application was unsuccessful

Scholarship Application Procedures

You must follow three steps:

  • STEP 1: Apply for your programme
    Applicants must submit a COMPLETE on-line application for admission.
    Applicants must have an offer of admission to a full-time one year taught Master’s programme. A complete application for admission includes transcripts, an explanation of the grading system for any degrees obtained outside of the UK, two references, CV and a personal statement. The panel will be considering your scholarship application TOGETHER with your online application for admission. Please note that complete application for admission can take up to 4 weeks to be considered by the Department, although this duration can vary depending on the time of year. You should be prepared to wait up to 6 weeks in busy periods.
    It is recommended to apply for the programme about six weeks BEFORE the scholarship deadline.

  • STEP 2: Apply for the scholarship by the deadline
    You must apply for this scholarship via the on-line scholarship application form

  • STEP 3: You must submit your FAFSA by the deadline and indicate SOAS as your School


         Scholarship Recipients



Montita Sowapark - M.A. Medical Anthropology



Cynthia Magallanes-Gonzalez - M.A. Migration and Diaspora Studies

As I prepare to depart SOAS, ISH, and London, I am feeling grateful for this experience. I am looking forward to welcoming the next John Loeillo/FISHL scholar and paying it forward in any way that I can.


Sherin Nassar - M.Sc. Development Studies



Donya Nasser - M.A. Iranian Studies

Prior to coming to SOAS, Donya was working two jobs - for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under Obama as a Policy Fellow, and as the U.S. Youth Representative to the United Nations. Donya was particularly interested in studying Iranian Studies and Farsi, and found the perfect combination at SOAS.

As a passionate advocate for equality and social justice, and chose to focus

donya nasser.jpg

on gender in Iran for her dissertation. Her studies also enabled her to learn toread and write in Farsi - skills she had not yet acquired, despite growing up speaking Farsi. Donya has enjoyed and greatly appreciated her time at SOAS, as well as having the opportunity to live in the International Student House and to have a mentor in long-time AFSOAS President Brooke Beardslee.


“The John Loiello AFSOAS FISHL Scholarship gave me the housing and tuition and it even gave me a mentor...their support means the difference between my getting this incredible MA in Iranian Studies and not being able to go at all.”



Bethel Moges - MSc Migration, Mobility, & Development

The second John Loiello AFSOAS FISHL Scholarship recipient -  Bethel Moges pursued her Masters in Migration, Mobility, & Development at SOAS due to.... Bethel's prior professional background was in community organizing and education, while academically, she is interested in studying the nexus between critical pedagogy and community-led models of development. She is passionate about illuminating parallel systemic injustices faced by migrant and minority communities across America in particular. What she liked most about SOAS is that it is an institution that is deliberate about creating a robust international community that recognizes the importance of bringing together a diversity of experiences and viewpoints to find solutions that serve our world, our communities, and ourselves. While in London, Bethel worked as the Somalia Education Research Intern at Relief International. As an Ethiopian American, she is particularly interested in living and working in Ethiopia for awhile, especially given the reality that Ethiopia today is home to a large number of refugees from neighboring countries.

It’s meant a lot to me, knowing that I would not have been able to come to SOAS without the AFSOAS scholarship. It’s a powerful feeling knowing that someone believed in you enough to take a chance on your education which is the most powerful gift you can receive.
bethel moges.jpg


Cristina Leifson - MSc Violence, Conflict, & Development

Cristina Leifson.jpg

As the inaugural John Loiello-AFSOAS Scholarship recipient, Cristina wanted to study somewhere that shared her unending passion for the world and would encourage her ambition and independence. She decided to pursue an MSc in Violence, Conflict, and Development at SOAS in order better understand many of the world’s conflicts and what she could do to help alleviate human suffering. While in London, she worked as a Researcher for Justice Mexico Now in providing research on the violation of the rights of migrant farm workers in Mexico, especially those in agricultural communinities. Today, Cristina is based in Washington, D.C. where she works as the Executive Assistant to the Vice President of International Programs at Save the Children


SOAS is an incredible institution. I was so inspired by the people around me - all SOASians seem to be intellectually engaged with the world around them and strive to make an impact in the wider world. I will cherish my experience at SOAS forever.