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?
Since I was a little girl, I wanted to become a professional. I thought about who I wanted to be when I grew up – a firefighter, a police officer, an architect, a stylist, a singer, a teacher, a doctor – those careers always caught my attention. My parents have always encouraged me to go ahead and specialize in one of those careers. I think that my motivation to go to college and continue my studies has always been my family. This is because I come from a family that didn’t even finish high school. Many members of my extended family wanted to continue studying, but for various reasons they couldn’t and their dreams of being professionals and being successful in life were not fulfilled. I’m also motivated to be in college because I want them to be proud of me and of my effort and dedication to school.
What are you currently studying? What degree will you earn?
At the moment, I am only taking general classes, but I plan to take nursing classes and get a bachelor’s degree. I want to be a pediatric nurse. That’s my goal, for now, and I will do my best to achieve it. I have also planned to be a translator. I’m working very hard and doing the best I can to achieve my goals.
Who inspires or has supported you in your college-going journey?
This is my first year of college and the people who have inspired and supported me are the ones who always have: my family, as well as some friends and my teachers. My family are the ones who have always supported me in everything I want to do and in what they believe is best for me. My family and a couple of friends have always been there for me in my ups and downs. So, they and some of my high school teachers have inspired me with their work and wise words to keep me going and encourage me not to stop, to keep studying no matter how difficult it gets.
What was the biggest challenge you have faced as a first-generation college student?
As a first-generation college student, I have faced many challenges, but the challenges that I have faced the most are the same as any other first-generation college student: finances and social life, fitting in on campus, and a lack of knowledge about the college experience.
Yessica Ramirez-Santos is currently a student at Kirkwood Community College’s Iowa City campus. She is pursuing her Liberal Arts degree. After Kirkwood she plans to go on to pursue her bachelor’s degree to become a pediatric nurse.