Stay Disciplined

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

Earning a degree and becoming a professional has always been a dream. Helping others in need of care, advocacy, and compassion were factors of motivation for going to college. Another thing that has motivated me is the hunger for knowledge. Learning new information is exciting, but, more importantly, it’s rewarding. A more important motivation in my college-going journey is my mother. Without her support, I would not be where I am today.

What are you currently studying? What degree do you hope to earn? 

I am currently studying nursing in hopes of earning an associate degree in nursing. Continuing education is also in the plan after receiving my degree. Obtaining my Bachelor of Science in nursing is my next journey after gaining work experience as a nurse

Why did you select this area of study?

Nursing is an excellent career choice to demonstrate compassion, care, empathy, and passion for the nursing profession. The nursing profession will undoubtedly help expand my skills. Nursing also offers room for growth as continuing education is an option for all who decide to pursue it.

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

A vital inspiration in my college-going journey was my mother. From a young age, I learned from my mother how to care for myself and others. My mother has guided me toward a better world, always wanting what is best for me. Her positive encouragement has helped me be successful. My dream of becoming a nurse seems attainable with her unconditional support. My mom’s work ethic and life struggles have inspired me to strive for a relevant and purposeful education and profession.

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

The biggest challenge I experienced being a first-generation college student was the lack of financial support. Our family comes from a humble living, and I am trying to support myself while attending classes. Since my mother and siblings could not attend college, I did not have the knowledge or the experience to navigate applying to get into college. I also did not know the resources and support teams available to me.

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

My advice to first-generation college students is to stay disciplined. College is a commitment, and, inevitably, roadblocks will be faced along the way. It is especially challenging for first-generation college students to navigate through the college experience. Remember, you are not alone. Keep in mind that the possibilities are endless, and there will always be someone willing to help. Stay organized and turn your homework in on time. Believe in yourself, have ambition, and lastly, do not forget the importance of your mental health. Take care of yourself and the people around you, be empathetic, and stay humble.

What goals have you set for yourself? 

Achieving my best in all my courses is a top priority. Therefore, I look forward to graduating from college with a good grade point average. Also, I wish to be part of a group that advocates for minority scholars and their continued education. Another objective is to earn my bachelor’s degree in nursing while gaining work experience. Even though this is a long-term goal, it is one I intend to accomplish.

Anything else you’d like to share? 

My mother and I came from a humble background and made it to the United States. I am forever grateful for my mother’s value for education and her tenacity in obtaining a better-lived life. I am also appreciative of those who have guided me on the right path throughout the years. Finally, a huge thank you to the ACT for their continued support. I will do my best to represent you and your values.

Fatima Lopez was born in a rural town in Mexico and raised in the United States. She grew up in a single-parent home, is part of the Hispanic community, and is a first-generation college student. She is currently studying nursing with the goal of earning an associate degree in nursing.