Find the Things That Motivate You to Move Forward

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.

photo of JoelWhat was your motivation for going to college and earning a degree?

My motivation for going to college and earning a degree mainly comes from my family. Being a first-generation college student, I strive to make my parents the proudest they can be. I come from a family where education is one of the most important things and I have been blessed enough to have parents who support me and encourage me to do my best.

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

Currently I am in the liberal arts program at Kirkwood and plan to continue my education to achieve my bachelor’s degree in marketing and advertising at the University of Iowa.

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

My biggest inspiration and support throughout my college journey have been my parents. There have been many times where I feel discouraged, as if I can’t do the college thing, but through all of it, my parents have been there to assure me that I am more than capable of doing it. In the moments where I am close to giving up, I remind myself of the things my parents have told me and continue to move forward.

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

As a first-generation student the biggest challenge I have faced has been thinking I have a lack of help when it comes to filling out forms and applications, or simply knowing what courses to take to stay on track. But the truth is, there are so many different resources that as a first-generation student can seek. Schools offer help in many ways that can be beneficial.

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

The advice I would give to other fellow first-generation college students is that it’s okay to seek help. It’s okay to not know every single detail when it comes to college. You may be pressured to believe that you should know everything regarding your life and future, but it’s totally okay not to. Just know yourself and find the things that motivate you to move forward. You’re not alone!

Joel Castillo is a third-year student at Kirkwood Community College. Joel loves to try new things and loves to use creativity in anything that may permit it. He enjoys doing crafts and watching movies, especially Marvel movies. He plans to attend the University of Iowa after graduating from Kirkwood.