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‘Have Someone There for You’

ACT established the ACT Scholars program to nurture the academic talent of graduate and community college students at the University of Iowa and Kirkwood Community College, respectively. ACT emphasized scholarships for students from populations for which the cost of higher education could have presented a significant barrier to college access and accomplishments.

To commemorate their journey from application to graduation, ACT has invited these scholars to share their stories. Lauren Carr is an Asian American student at Kirkwood Community College. She graduated from Warsaw High School in Warsaw, Illinois, with the full intent of a successful life after college.

What are you studying? What degree do you plan to earn?

My program of study at Kirkwood Community College is dental assisting. The dental assisting program has taught me more than I could’ve imagined while choosing my major. All of my professors and classmates have been amazing and driven toward success, and I cannot thank them enough for teaching me the skills needed for this career choice. I plan to graduate at the end of the fall term in 2023 and further my career as a dental assistant in Iowa.

What was your motivation for going to college?

My motivation for college was my family and my passion for the dental field. I saw college as an opportunity to make a difference in the community by helping others have healthy, beautiful smiles. I plan to receive my associate’s of applied science (AAS) and become a registered dental assistant (RDA) by graduation. I selected dental assisting as my area of study because of my passion for the dental field, and I believe that a smile can brighten anyone’s day.

Who inspired or supported you on your college-going journey?

My parents have played an incredible role in helping me throughout this journey through support, love, and having someone to talk to.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced as a first-generation college student, and how did you work to overcome it?

My biggest challenge throughout this journey would be the stress of working 30-hour weeks while being a full-time college student and trying to get through a 64.5-credit-hour program. Working 30 hours a week and trying to pay for college, rent, and necessities is difficult while being in school full time, but with the help of my family, friends, and Kirkwood’s amazing program and resources, I was able to get through this program.

What advice would you give to other first-generation college students?

My advice would be to have someone there for you through college because you may get homesick, stressed, and overwhelmed. As someone who went through that, having a support system was the best possible thing I could have, and that is what has gotten me through college. I have set goals for myself each week on homework to get done, how many hours I can get at work, and an end goal of graduating college with my AAS and RDA license. I plan to achieve my goals by getting homework done, studying, and realizing the end goal of college is to be successful in life after college.

What does the ACT scholarship mean to you? How does it affect your college-going journey?

This being my last semester in college, I need to focus on the end goal, and this scholarship helps me focus on that.