For The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — St. Ambrose University students Haylee Thurmond and Daniel Salazar highlighted the profound impact the Iowa Tuition Grant has made on their education during a legislative breakfast that the university hosted Dec. 7.
Andy Baumert, vice president of marketing for the Iowa Association of Independent Colleges, and several Iowa legislators attended. “This organization came to be because of the desire to put together a program like the Iowa Tuition Grant (ITG) and the encouragement of the governor and legislature to create it, which they did in 1979,” Baumert said. The ITG 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.”
Grant money goes “directly to the student so that they may choose from a 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,” Baumert said.
Thurmond is double majoring in criminal justice and in women and gender studies with a minor in sociology. She spoke at the gathering, calling attention to the difference the grant has made in 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 has positively impacted mine.”
Salazar, who graduates in May 2023 with a bachelor of arts in history education, heartily seconded the 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 expand monetarily and in its accessibility.