By: Karolyn Trumpold, program coordinator, Talent Strategy

As students across the nation head back to the classroom, we are celebrating First-Generation students. A First-Generation College Student is defined as a student whose parents didn’t attend college; or is the first person in their immediate family to attend college; or neither parent has at least one year of college. This month, we are sharing stories from ACT colleagues who are First-Generation College Students.

I grew up in rural Iowa, the eldest of three children and had always wanted to attend University of Iowa. I had to borrow funds to attend college which put the University of Iowa expense out of reach for me. With the help of my high school superintendent I discovered Northwest Missouri State University (NWMSU) as an affordable, smaller university with an excellent professional staff and within my price range.

Growing up, my father was always interested in daily activities and accomplishments. He was especially interested in reviewing my report cards with me, sort of a quarterly review of what subjects I was interested in and what I may want to be when I graduated. He talked of his own interest in school and how he had persisted to graduate from high school even though many boys in rural farming communities would quit after eighth grade or before graduation to help with farm work. I remember him saying many times that he wanted me to go to college to have a better life. He didn’t earn enough money to be able to pay for three children to attend college so he encouraged and supported us by his inspiring conversation and daily interest in how we were doing. Through his questioning and interest he always kept the dream of what we could attain and be visually in front of us. He spurred us on through involved parenting, love, and his expectations for us.

My first preference was to become a high school social science teacher and coach, which didn’t even survive my first year of college and was soon replaced by the desire for a business degree specializing in accounting and to become a Certified Professional Accountant (CPA). As accounting became more theory than facts, I changed once again to become a high school business teacher with a desire to eventually become a college professor. I briefly taught high school business at Avoha Schools in western Iowa, and have taught several introductory adult evening classes in computer applications for Kirkwood Community College prior to working at ACT. I also taught business classes and worked in the offices of Amana Appliances while my children were growing up.

The tradition my father established with me continued as both of my daughters became National Merit Scholars and high school valedictorians. They both graduated from the University of Iowa and my eldest daughter attended Dartmouth for three years before graduating from Iowa. I firmly believe a parent’s belief and support early in a child’s life helps them develop a true desire to succeed.

Karolyn Trumpold is a project coordinator in the Office for Organizational Effectiveness within the Talent Strategy Department at ACT. She received her Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Education/Secondary with an emphasis in Business from Northwest Missouri State University, Maryville, Missouri.