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 young, I have loved reading books and I feel passionate about being successful in the future. I have been dreaming of becoming an engineer because I am good at math and science. Also, I liked to invent things when I was young. My mother helped me a lot to be good at school and every time she kept motivating me and she bought me textbooks and notebooks. She didn’t receive a high school education (she attended through junior high), but she was able to write and read. In spite of that, she was trying to help me know what I didn’t know. This gives you an idea as to how important it is to take care of the next generation. It is crucial to get support from your parents when you are young. This is what I am trying to do– to get a college degree to help my kids pursue their careers, too.
What are you currently studying? What degree will you earn?
Right now I am taking some courses at Kirkwood Community College, then I am going to study electrical engineering, probably at the University of Iowa.
Who inspired or supported you in your college-going journey?
My mother and my father supported me. They have always given me pieces of advice and motivate me every single day. In fact, this gives me the power to go forward.
What was the biggest challenge you faced as a first-generation college student?
I don’t have a mentor who can help me figure out how to study or what steps I should do to successfully transfer to a university.
What advice would you give to a first-generation college student today?
The more you trust yourself, the more you accomplish your goals. It is going to be a little bit tough in the beginning of your career, but don’t forget that you are building muscles that can help you in the future.
What goals have you set for yourself?
First, I would like to improve my English language skills. I think I am doing pretty well right now, but should be better after I am done with my English as a Second Language classes. Then, I would like to get a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. After that, I would like to do some research to develop solar panels and find new technologies to store energy instead of regular batteries.
Anything else you’d like to share?
From my perspective, life is like an experiment that we are doing for the first time. We already know how hard it is going to be, but we don’t care, and we continue doing it.
Mutasim Ahmed was born in a small village in Sudan. He came to the United States in 2019 alone as an immigrant. He left his family in Sudan. He speaks two languages: Arabic and English.