By: Kim Bauer, director, Implementation Services

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.

photo of Kim

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

I wanted to make sure I had a good education to back up my years of professional experience, and I wanted my kids to be proud of me.

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

The VP of the company I worked for at the time encouraged me to get my degree through the tuition reimbursement program. Once I was enrolled, my family and work colleagues supported me along the way. My co-worker, mentor, and good friend Jim Loehrlein, who I sat with for five years of my college-going journey always made sure I knew he believed in me and assured me that I could do anything I set out to do.

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

I’d say the biggest challenge was lack of awareness. We didn’t talk about college aspirations at home, and I didn’t pursue discussions with my school counselors because I didn’t think I was smart enough and I didn’t think I would ever be able to afford it.

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

Ask questions, be your own advocate, and don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t.

What was your largest worry during that time?

My courses were in 12-week blocks and at the start of every block, I worried that the course would be too hard and that I would get a bad grade or fail. What I finally learned was that a majority of my classmates had the same fears. We became each other’s support network and cheering squad.

Kim earned her Bachelor of Arts (BA), Business Administration, Human Resource Management and Marketing, from Mount Mercy University, Cedar Rapids, IA.