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'Be Determined’

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. Adamo Mvuezolo is a Kirkwood Community College student in the liberal arts-associate of science program. He is originally from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and has lived in the U.S. for three years with his wife and three children. He plans to graduate in the spring and transfer to Iowa State University to complete his mechanical engineering degree.

What was your motivation for going to college?

My passion for mechanical engineering, which allows me to solve technical problems in the community, is my main motivation. It was this desire that prompted me to return to school to pursue an engineering program.

Why did you select this area of study?

When I was a teenager, I was very excited by the idea of seeing vehicles in motion. One day, I asked my parents what made the vehicle move. They told me it was hard to explain because they didn't know anything about it. As I grew older, I realized that I'd been interested in engineering from a very early age. This intense passion for engineering led me to choose my current field of study in order to solve the community's technical problems.

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

It was my high school teacher who encouraged me to solve problems, as he was a mechanical engineer. What's more, I've had a passion for mechanical engineering since I was very young, and I've always said I'd be a mechanical engineer.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced as a college student and how are you working to overcome it?

My main challenges are to study English as a second language, finance my tuition and fees, and manage my time between my life as a full-time student and my life as a parent. I continue to learn English every day to improve my comprehension by taking English classes. In addition, I work full time at Worley Corporation as a forklift driver to cover my tuition and other bills as a parent. Finally, I work on weekends so that I can devote my weekdays to my studies.

What advice would you give to a first-generation college student today?

I'm a first-generation student and I'm old. I know it's not easy to study if you don't have a role model of academic success in your family. I'd like to encourage you to be determined and not give up on your dream because your parents didn't go to college. You can do better than your parents if you want to.

What goals have you set for yourself? How do you plan to achieve them?
Right now, I'm hoping to complete all the courses required to transfer from Kirkwood to Iowa State University by spring, with a grade point average above 3.0. I also plan to achieve this goal by reducing my work hours and taking more time to study and complete my homework on time.

What does this ACT scholarship mean to you? How does it affect your education journey?

Working full time and being a full-time student is a terrible situation. But thanks to this scholarship, I'll be able to pay my tuition fees and reduce my working hours to devote more time to my studies. This scholarship represents a great support and helps me achieve my current and future academic goals.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I plan to continue my graduate studies until I obtain a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering, with a specialization in the energy field. I then hope to obtain a teaching position at an American university. I will also return to the University of Kinshasa in Congo, to teach students and share with them the results of my difficult journey as an immigrant to the United States.