Rana Hasan has always dreamed about completing her graduate studies at a US university.
She said a diploma from a US university "would help me develop my country in the future".
Last month, Rana's dream came true.
She passed the Fulbright test and her application for a scholarship for the 2010-2011 academic year was approved.
"This scholarship will further boost my maturity and my capabilities so that I may contribute to the development of Iraq in the future through my specialization in business administration," she said.
Last year, the program doubled the number of Iraqi students receiving scholarships from 35 to 70 after the Iraqi government committed $2.5 million to the program.
"The goal behind the expansion of the academic program is that we want the US academic elite to meet with their Iraqi counterparts and build knowledge bridges that will open the door for the exchange of knowledge and culture," said Rafiq Mansur, cultural and educational adviser at the US Embassy in Baghdad.
"We are happy for this academic and cultural cooperation which will, of course, enhance the capabilities and experiences of students and different universities and institutions in Iraq -- something that will contribute to the building and development of the country," Mansur told Mawtani.
According to Mansur, 245 male and female Iraqi students have participated in the Fulbright program since 2003.
The Fulbright scholarship is one of the most prestigious academic scholarship programs in the world. Late US Senator William Fulbright launched the program in 1946 for distinguished students from all over the world.
For years, the program, which is now sponsored by the US Department of State, has been working to enable Iraqi students to obtain a master's or doctorate in humanities and social sciences, to build leadership skills, and to enrich cultural awareness with Americans.
Applicants to the Fulbright program must have bachelor's degree and score at least 550 on the TOEFL English exam.
"We have a strong desire to consolidate relations with our US partners by signing more bilateral agreements on academic and scientific partnership," said Hafiz Mohammed, head of psychology studies at the University of Kufa.
"The cultural cooperation between Baghdad and Washington does not only include scholarships, but there are also different activities and events that come within the framework of the twinning program between US and Iraqi universities," he said.
The twinning program links five Iraqi universities with five US universities to review curricula, provide on-line courses and scientific dialogue, build career development centers at Iraqi universities, and exchange students and teaching staff.
"Iraq is in dire need of communication with the world through scholarship, mission, and fellowship programs, and by signing protocols and memorandums of understanding aimed at supporting the higher education sector in the country," said Ali Luqman, a teacher at the University of Baghdad.
"We want to get acquainted with the latest studies and research work, apply new and advanced educational tools, and acquire practical and scientific experiences like our counterparts in the developed countries," he said.
Recent recipients of the scholarship are looking forward to their experience in the United States.
"I feel extremely happy because I have the opportunity to study in the United States," said Saif Ammar. "I will return here after two academic years to dedicate the experience that I will acquire in the field of economics for the service of Iraq."