Believe in Yourself and Make Connections

More than a decade ago, as part of ACT’s 50th anniversary celebration, ACT established the ACT Scholars Program, as part of a pair of endowments to nurture the academic talent of graduate and community college students at the University of Iowa and Kirkwood Community College. These two institutions share ACT’s passion for helping all students achieve their ambitions in college and their careers. 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. 

We will feature ACT Scholar blogs regularly, to hear their stories and learn about their college-going journeys. Learn more about the ACT Scholar program.

What was your motivation for going to college and earning a degree?

I hear it is really difficult these days to get a higher position in large companies without having a degree. My motivation at the moment, after receiving my degree, is to work in an institution or company that gives support to people in a highly vulnerable condition.

What are you currently studying? What degree will you earn?

I am currently in the first year of the liberal arts program, but plan to transfer to a four-year college to earn a bachelor’s degree. I’m thinking about combining economics and management.

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

My parents are professors at a university in Brazil, so they always taught me the importance of education and how it can change people’s lives. When I started thinking about the idea of going to Kirkwood, my parents and Donna (a family friend who helped me with the process) were fundamental. At the time I was already living in Iowa with a host family and they also supported me. Two of their children attended Kirkwood and the third, who at the time was a junior in high school, was planning to complete two years here as well. My host family already knew a little of how things  worked at Kirkwood and  it helped a lot.

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

As an international student, my biggest challenge was/is the language. I took two semesters of English when I started at Kirkwood, which allowed me to start my classes, but it isn’t the only thing. There are also the cultural differences, the adaptation process, and being away from family and friends. Also, I started English classes in the fall of 2020, when we were still in quarantine.

What advice would you give to a college student today?  

I think the best advice is to believe in yourself and make connections! College can be hard, but if you do your best you will get results from it. The college has a huge team that can help you reach your goal, and that’s not just teachers, it also has advisors, tutors, counselors, and classmates. There are many people who can help you, you just need to talk to them — don’t be ashamed.

What goals have you set for yourself?

One of my goals is to get a bachelor’s degree, but that’s pretty obvious. I think the goals I set for myself include helping as many people as possible. I am here now because many people passed through my life and helped me, and many of them don’t even know how important they were in my life. I want to be that person in somebody else’s life — I want to help people around me in some way, independent of the degree that I will earn.

Giovanna Brilhante Queiroz is 19 years old and is from Brazil. Giovanna was born and raised in São Paulo, but most of her family is from Pernambuco. She has been living in Iowa since December 2019 at first with a host family, and now on campus. She’s in her second year at Kirkwood, with her first year focused on English classes (ELA program). She is a member of the international students’ leadership team.