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‘I Can Achieve My Dream’

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. Linh Tong is a student at Kirkwood Community College who is pursuing an associate of science degree and plans to graduate this spring.

Who was your motivation for going to college?

I have a self-interest and a self-driven motive to study. Socrates once said, “All I know is that I know nothing.” I enjoy learning, so knowledge is never enough for me. It both serves and has its own intrinsic value beyond academic and professional achievements.

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

With strong logical and mathematical skills, I have developed my interests in STEM subjects, from which I decided my favorite field to study: mathematics. At Kirkwood, I plan to obtain an associate of science degree at the end of spring 2024. In the fall of 2024, I wish to transfer to the University of Iowa to major in actuarial science and earn a bachelor’s degree. I’m also considering a minor in computer science.

What was the biggest challenge you faced as a college student?

I do struggle a lot as a non-English speaker. Before coming to America, I lived in Vietnam until I was 16. Even though I spoke a little English, I had a hard time making friends and getting access to opportunities for students to succeed. Before making my college decision, I spent five months straight working on a lot of ACT practice tests, which challenged my horribly wretched English skills. Those days of hard work converged into a 25 Composite score, which was higher than I imagined. The world started to open up for me. It isn’t only that more college choices are available, but the way I perceive myself has changed: I can achieve my dream.

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

My experience tells me that time management and concentration matter to do well in college. I carry a planner with me to keep track of everything that I’m assigned, or I assign myself to do. From work schedule, time distribution for homework, to Kirkwood club meetings, I try to keep everything well scheduled. Since my freshman year I have learned to manage that workload and maintain 4.0 GPA.  

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

My heart was marching and filled with the richest form of gratitude when I received a congratulatory letter for the ACT scholarship at Kirkwood Community College. At that moment, I thought right away of sharing the news with my mother and father, who would be the happiest souls seeing me succeed.

The ACT scholarship has been a huge financial assistance for my academic and professional life. With this generous fund, I can let go of my financial stress and put my concentration into everything that I set out to achieve, and – no doubt – that is to succeed. I’m still a student whose life is currently loaded with academic and community missions, but these funds definitely support my journey.