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‘Pursuing Your Goals Is Challenging, But Possible’

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. Grace Baluengidi is a Kirkwood Community College student pursuing an associate of applied science with plans to graduate this summer. Grace graduated from Kirksville High School in Kirksville, Missouri, and hopes to continue her education in medical school to pursue her dream career in pediatrics.

What was your motivation for going to college?

I have always been passionate about working in the medical field, specifically in pediatrics. My motivation for going to college and earning a degree was to have a solid knowledge about my career that I could use to help others by caring for them. I selected this study area because I am enthusiastic about being a healthcare professional, saving lives, and caring for others.

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

My parents were the first people who supported me in my college-going journey. They always taught me how important school is. My friends and my English teacher from high school empowered my self-confidence and also supported me in my college-going journey.

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

The biggest challenge that I have faced, and I am still facing, but I am overcoming, is the language. I am a French speaker and English is not my first language.

Determination, willingness to learn, and self-confidence are things that help me to overcome all challenges. From these challenges, I’ve learned that when you are confident and determined to achieve a goal, whatever people can say about your incompetence, your weakness, or your mistakes, you will still work hard and push yourself to accomplish your goal. In my case, I did not only trust in myself but also God first. During the presentation of the class assignments, I was sometimes laughed at by those who speak English fluently, but this has not stopped me from pursuing my goal.

What advice would you give to other college students?  

I advise college students today to know what they want, be determined, never give up on reaching their goals, and not be ashamed to ask questions and for help. Asking questions when you do not know anything is not always a sign of weakness but proof of strength, courage, and intelligence.

Pursuing your goals is challenging, but possible. Even failure is part of success. Please do not be ashamed of your weaknesses and failures but use them as an opportunity to learn better.

What are your career goals, and how do you hope to achieve them?  

The goals I have set for myself are to work hard and pursue my education in medical school to be a pediatrician or earn a master’s degree in physician assistant studies after completing my Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree at the University of Iowa.

What does the ACT scholarship mean to you?

The ACT scholarship means a lot to me and affects my education journey by providing me more time for my studies and helping me worry less about my tuition.