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‘Pave Your Own Path’

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 whom the cost of higher education could have presented a significant barrier to college access and accomplishments.

To commemorate their journeys from application to graduation, ACT has invited these scholars to share their stories. Landen Eidahl is a sophomore at Kirkwood Community College pursuing a degree in business administration with plans to graduate this spring and enroll at a four-year college.

What was your motivation for going to college?

Growing up, I have always had the motivation to be highly successful, do what I love, and go to college. However, when I was diagnosed with petit mal epilepsy, I was told I may struggle when it came to learning. In elementary school, I noticed that I would “space out” during everyday activities. These episodes would occur during school and when I was doing physical activities. It took a lot of testing, but I was eventually diagnosed with epilepsy. Those times when I would space out were little seizures. I was put on medication and told that I might have to take it the rest of my life to manage the seizures.

Even though this was a scary moment in my life, I was still determined to succeed. This diagnosis became motivation as I had to work hard to keep up. I was able to continue my success in the classroom and out. And, after many years, my symptoms started to go away. I was able to get off the medication and eventually get accepted into college. Even though I don’t experience symptoms anymore, this part of me that could have been a hinderance in my journey has become a strong motivator to succeed in college and beyond.

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

I am studying business administration. I plan on getting my general education classes done at Kirkwood and then transferring to a four-year college to earn my bachelor's degree. Kirkwood is the best option for me in the beginning stages of my college career.

Why did you select this area of study?

The business classes I took in high school were interesting. Just like my mom, I have an interest in becoming an entrepreneur. I know a business background will help me if I decide that is the route for me. I have many role models who started their own businesses from scratch. They are successful and never feel like they are working because they love what they are doing so much. I want that for myself.

No matter where my path leads me, I want to enjoy what I am doing. A business degree will help me explore different aspects of business that will be useful in narrowing down my degree even more.

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

Throughout my life, my mom has always been my biggest inspiration. My mom grew up in a low-income family and she always wanted better. Her goal was to be a first-generation college graduate. She was able to accomplish that all while working multiple jobs to pay for it. After college, she carried her success into the business world. She started her own brand and was able to quit her full-time job to pursue a true passion of hers.

When I think of the American dream, I think of my mom. That dream has been instilled in me from watching her. Just like it was for my mom, I want college to be the launchpad that sets me up for success.

What was the biggest challenge you faced as a college student and how did you work to overcome it?

My first year of college was a challenge because of my time management, or lack thereof. I was a full-time student and I also wanted to try new things and pursue different endeavors.

I was hired to be an assistant college basketball coach. It was something I had thought about doing and this was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. It was difficult balancing that, being a full-time student, and working my part-time job. It was all worth it in the end because I learned so much and it taught me the importance of time management and resiliency.

What advice would you give to a college student today?  

Pave your own path; don’t let other people tell you what you can and cannot do. The journey will be challenging but also very rewarding. If you are persistent, curious, informed, and faithful you will achieve more things than you imagined. Stay strong and believe.

What goals have you set for yourself? How do you plan to achieve them?

Throughout college, my goal has always been to find a career I can pursue after I graduate. That being said, I am planning to try new things as I continue with my college career. I did that last year, and I hope to continue that this year.

I started the school year taking an acting class at Kirkwood. It is out of my comfort zone, but it was something new to try. I am also planning on joining clubs, participating in intramurals, and continuing coaching.

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

This scholarship was a monumental moment in my life. I am responsible for paying for college and this scholarship has eased that responsibility and made my first two years in college less stressful.

Just like my mom, I work hard to pay for college. This scholarship has allowed me to focus on my classes and my studies. It has also allowed me to pursue opportunities I never thought possible. This scholarship has had a tremendous impact on my academic trajectory and personal growth.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Kirkwood has been a great experience that will impact the rest of my life. This is where it all started. Kirkwood is the launch pad for the rest of my journey. It will always hold a special place in my heart. Whenever I am asked what a high schooler should do after high school, I always recommend Kirkwood. It is such a great start to the college experience and the ACT scholarship is an opportunity that can make the transition that much better.