Major Gift from ACT, Inc. Powers Student STEM Success

For a region that needs a legion of skilled science and technology professionals, a big gift from longtime friends of the college was welcome news to Kirkwood Community College. In a few years, that support has already fueled promising futures in our Corridor.

ACT, Inc. has been a key, productive partner with Kirkwood for decades. When former Chief Executive Officer and Chairman Richard L. Ferguson announced a $2 million gift to the Kirkwood Foundation in 2010, it was aimed at boosting scholarships in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs. By the fall of 2013, 35 scholarships have already been granted, with more than a dozen to be awarded the following year.

When Ferguson announced the 2010 gift, he noted the “future of student success and economic vitality” the scholarships would provide, and the “long and productive relationship” between the college and the Iowa City-based assessment and research firm. “Our ACT staff have benefited from Kirkwood training and many of our employees are Kirkwood graduates,” he added.

To honor this major gift and its ongoing help to our students, Kirkwood dedicated a key Linn Hall learning space in November 2013. The new ACT, Inc. Math & Science Pavilion provides innovative teaching and learning areas the offer access between students and faculty. The largest area is a “math emporium” containing scores of computer workstations, plus spaces where learners can seek assistance from instructors and collaborate with other students. This combination social/academic space provides areas for students across the STEM curriculum to build skills and gain insights.

Current ACT CEO Jon Whitmore affirmed the strength of the scholarship support in his remarks at the dedication. “By enabling more students to earn associate of arts and associate of applied science degrees in STEM-related disciplines, ACT and Kirkwood are not only directly helping the students who are receiving the scholarships, but helping all of our society prepare for the future,” Whitmore said.

The ACT Endowed Scholarship launched Kevin Frias in his pursuit of an engineering career. The New Jersey native came to Kirkwood in 2011 and was one of the first ACT scholarship recipients. He is now in his junior year at Iowa State University and enjoying his technical pursuits.

“The ACT scholarship is honestly the only way I was able to attend college,” he said. “It’s the reason I was able to finish at Kirkwood and now attend Iowa State. It’s the reason I have such a bright path before me.”

Kevin’s positive experience underscores recent Kirkwood studies that show the benefits of scholarship aid. Over the past decade, students who receive scholarship support are more than twice as likely to complete their studies in an academic program.

The ACT Endowed Scholarship fund has grown to more than $2.5 million in early 2014, meaning the number of students who will receive help in future years will continue to rapidly grow. More information on the ACT Endowed Scholarship Program and other support is available via www.kirkwood.edu/scholarships.

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