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A Personal Community College Story

Posted on September 2, 2022 at 11:35 AM by Monica Clark

Written by Executive Director Emily Shields

April is Community College Month and this year we are featuring the diverse stories of Iowa Community College alumni and the impact their experiences had on their lives. As the daughter of two Iowa Community College graduates, these stories bring me so much joy and make it easy to advocate for the important work we do every day. 

In 1975, my father returned home to Cedar Rapids after serving in the Navy in Vietnam. He needed to work, so he got a job at the post office as a mail carrier, but he also knew he wanted to continue his education. As one of eight children in a working-class household, he only had the means to do so through the GI Bill. He needed something flexible that would allow him to keep working, so he enrolled at Kirkwood Community College. Then, as it does for so many of our students, life intervened. My dad met my mom and they had me and then one little brother and then (much to my dismay) another one (just kidding, Alex). My dad kept going, but only had the time to drive out to campus for one class at a time.

I can remember seeing his books and notes as a little girl. Watching him study and hearing about what he was learning instilled a love of education in me that I have never lost (and in my brothers too, who both went on to become teachers). In all, it took him 10 years to get his associate’s degree. He finished in 1985 (which he remembers clearly because he picked up his diploma just a few months after my youngest brother was born).

Many of our students’ stories are like this. They tend to be older, they often have kids, and, many times, it takes them longer than two years to get a degree. But they keep at it, they work hard, and they balance full-time jobs, parenting, school, and many other responsibilities.

For my dad, the impact was less tangible than we sometimes assume. He stayed at the post office and was a mail carrier until retirement, but it wasn’t really a career change he was after in the first place. He wanted to be someone with a college degree. He gained confidence and writing skills. He was president of the board at our credit union and wrote letters to the editor when he saw a need to speak out. He helped us with our homework and made sure we all went to college too. This is the kind of life-changing impact we offer students every day and why many of us keep doing this important work year after year.

-Emily Shields, Executive Director

Scott Community College alumnus owns successful restaurant

Joe Gomez is the proud owner of Los Primos Mexican Grill in Davenport after graduating from Scott Community College's Culinary Arts Program!

Photo of Joe Gomez, owner of Los Primos Mexican Grill in Davenport. Text reads: "I was so happy and so proud on the day I graduated. Now I put those feelings into my business - doing something I love and making people feel good to be here. I want everyone to know: if I can do this, YOU can do this." EICC Alumnus

SCC graduate creates foundation to increase digital literacy

“I was given wonderful support by (SCC basketball coach) Joe O’Brien and my host family. I learned a lot about myself and my potential, which led to my passion today. I noticed a great digital divide between students in America and my home country of Cameroon. I wanted to change that, so I created the Manengouba Foundation. We refurbish computers donated by American companies and package them with a basic digital literacy program. Then we train the teachers so they can add it to their curriculum.”

-SCC 2002 Graduate, Didier Socka

Manengouba Foundation website.

'I learned a lot about myself and my potential, which led to my passion today." DIDIER SOCKA 2002 AA Graduate International Student SCC ALUMNUS

DMACC alum manages important hospital applications teams

Matt Beglinger manages teams responsible for overseeing applications used by clinical and pharmacy staff across all UnityPoint Health hospitals.

Text reads: "Because of my Community College...'I was better prepared for future success in my college career. While I was still determining which path I wanted to take, I was able to earn credits that I eventually transferred to Iowa State." Matt Beglinger, MBA Manager, Inpatient Clinical and Pharmacy Applications.

NICC grad receives Woman Entrepreneur of the Year award 

Northeast Iowa Community College graduate, Erica Brewer, received a Deb Dalziel Woman Entrepreneur of the Year award from the Iowa Small Business Development Center for her business Belle Allure Minkz and Boutique.

“I love school, I love education. I’m the first person in my family to get this far in my education. I want to continue and earn a master’s degree. I may even get a Ph.D. and be named ‘Dr. Erica C. Brewer,’” she said. “The experience I had at NICC was life-changing. Especially the career networking events on campus and seeing that everyone is willing to help students – faculty, staff, cafeteria people, everyone.”

Full article.

Erica Brewer stands in the Iowa House Chamber next to two other people. The second photo is of her in front of her store.

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