A pair of professors in the ISU Department of History decided to create an opportunity for prospective students with refugee status.
Erika Kuhlman and Kevin Marsh were inspired to create this scholarship by the recent political discourse concerning immigration.
“We wanted to do something that we felt was more welcoming of people who might now feel unwelcome here because of the policies of our president,” Kuhlman said. “This would not have come to mind had it not been for the presidential election last fall and the consequent policies that the president has put forth.”
Those consequent policies are the two executive orders issued by President Donald Trump on January 27 and March 6.
The orders were titled “Executive Order Protecting The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States.”
The orders suspended the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days, prevented nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen from entering the country for 90 days and barred entrance of Syrian nationals indefinitely.
They would also reduce the number of refugees accepted by the U.S. and prioritize specific groups over others based on religious demographics of the previously mentioned countries.
After a federal court suspended the first executive order, Trump issued the second, revised version.
Opponents of the executive orders claimed they targeted Muslims to prevent them from entering the country.
The scholarship, adding up to $14,000, is available for a two-year degree, but if the applicant is receiving additional funds from other sources the scholarship can be spread over a four-year degree, Kuhlman said.
While all prospective students with refugee status are encouraged to apply, priority will be given to female applicants.
“Women are still, by and large, the primary caregivers of children around the world,” Kuhlman said. “If you can educate a mother, you typically are also able to persuade her to then, in turn, educate her children and hopefully it becomes generational.”
Multiple people worked with the professors to make the scholarship possible, including a group called Bridges, which works with a refugee center based out of Twin Falls, Idaho.
She encourages prospective students from the refugee center to apply, as well as anyone in Pocatello currently holding refugee status.
“We would love to see the scholarship go to someone who’s in need and really take advantage of such a thing,” Kuhlman said.
This scholarship is currently available in the ISU Scholarship Office, located in the Museum building.
It is an online application requiring the applicant to identify where they are at in their studies, two letters of recommendation and a valid FAFSA application that verifies refugee status.