The Iraqi and Syrian Student Project was created by Theresa Kubasak and Gabe Huck in 2008. Originally called the Iraqi Student Project, it became the Iraqi and Syrian Student Project (ISSP) in 2016. ISSP places aspiring young students displaced by the wars in Iraq and Syria in undergraduate degree programs in the United States. A grassroots effort to help Iraqi and Syrian refugees acquire the undergraduate educations they need to participate in rebuilding their countries, ISSP’s work largely involves seeking tuition waivers and scholarships from American colleges and universities. Students are also supported by volunteers in the US who provide moral and financial support throughout the students’ enrollment. From 2008 until 2012, ISSP sent more than sixty Iraqis refugees in Damascus to universities in the US. The universities provided tuition waivers or scholarships, and local support groups provided for day-to-day needs. In 2015, Kubasak and Huck began working with Syrian refugees in Istanbul. In 2016, six Syrian students attended American universities with tuition waivers. In 2017, because of President Trump’s travel ban, six more began studying at Canadian universities, instead of American universities.
A 2018 grant from the Cultures of Resistance Network funded tuition costs for four students.
A 2017 grant from the Cultures of Resistance Network funded official English language exams and the costs of study permits and visas to Canada for five Syrian refugees in Turkey.
A 2013 grant from the Cultures of Resistance Network supported college scholarships for two Iraqi students to attend the Armand Hammer United World College of the American West and Pearson College UWC for two years.
A 2012 grant supported ISSP’s work at a time when, due to violence and unrest in Syria and belt-tightening across US higher education, financial assistance was particularly valuable. The Arm and Hammer United World College of the American West served as a fiscal sponsor for this grant.
A 2009 grant allowed the ISSP’s US Director to visit college admissions officers in order to discuss how to help more Iraqi students begin their studies in 2009. The Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities served as a fiscal sponsor for this grant.