St. Ambrose University students Haylee Thurmond and Daniel Salazar highlighted the profound impact the Iowa Tuition Grant has made on their education at the Legislative Breakfast hosted by St. Ambrose, Wednesday, December 7.
Legislative attendees included Andy Baumert, Vice President of Marketing for the Iowa Association of Independent Colleges; Sen. Chris Cournoyer, Iowa State Senator; Iowa State Reps. Gary M. Mohr and Norlin Mommsen, and Mike Vondran, member-elect of the Iowa House of Representatives.
"I am very proud to work in Iowa and for this Association (Iowa Association of Independent Colleges and Universities)," said Baumert. "This organization came to be because of the desire to put together a program like the Iowa Tuition Grant (ITG) and encouragement of the governor and legislature to create it, which they did in 1979.
"Since then, it has become the envy of virtually every other state. It is elegant in its simplicity. It applies to students such as Haylee and Daniel who choose to go to any of Iowa's private and non-profit institutions."
Haylee Thurmond tells her story to Legislative representatives. "I can say for certain that I would not be at St. Ambrose if it had not been for the Iowa Tuition Grant."
Baumert emphasized how the grant money is not an institutional aid program, highlighting the bipartisan nature of the grant and its importance in providing education for our Iowa students in such a tax-efficient manner.
"These are dollars that go directly to the student so that they may choose from this really broad menu of educational options to find the learning environment and circumstance that is best for them in a place where the state doesn't pay for the infrastructure. I think this is the best public-private partnership that you can even imagine."
Thurmond, who double-majors in Criminal Justice and Women and Gender Studies with a minor in Sociology, spoke to the group, clearly calling attention to the difference this grant has made to her life as a first-generation student who also comes from a large family.
"I can confidently say that I would not be here at St. Ambrose without the Iowa Tuition Grant. Funds like these can make a huge difference in people's lives, and it especially has positively impacted mine."
Salazar, who graduates in May '23 with a Bachelor of Arts in History Education, heartily seconded this notion.
"For the longest time, I thought I would grow up to be a maintenance worker just like my grandfather, who worked at Heinz for 44 years. When I told him this plan, he said, 'Mijo, look at my fingers. Not a single one is straight. They have been broken and damaged over the years, and you can do so much more.' The main message was to go to school, so you don't have to work as hard as I did. And I could not have done that without the help of the Iowa Tuition grant."
As Salazar continues to live the reality of what he calls 'The American Dream', his only wish is for the grant to continue to be expanded, not only monetarily but in its accessibility.
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