Back

ICFRC: Area Refugees and Immigrants in Pursuit of Higher Education

Listen to an audio podcast of this program.

Across the globe and here in Iowa, education is seen as a ticket to a better future. The knowledge one acquires and the credentials a degree confers have the power to open previously closed doors and lead to opportunities previously not possible. For refugees and immigrants, navigating the complex systems of higher education in the US are overwhelming and promising. In some ways, the realities are akin to most first-generation families. There may be a steep learning curve about school types and the similarities and differences between them, about the FAFSA, applications, and costs for each school, about existing scholarships and other funding sources, and about the resources available to students new to the tertiary landscape. In other ways, there are realities which are unique to first-gen families newer to the US.

In this session, the panel discusses the lived experiences of refugee and immigrant students and their families as they pursue admission to and persist through Iowa's colleges and universities. They explain some of the support programs and resources available in the state. And they share how increasingly diversifying campuses of all types are more vibrant for everyone, particularly in learning spaces, with the inclusion of the voices, ideas, and contributions of students from all cultural and national backgrounds.

Mallory Petsche has served alongside refugee and immigrant communities in Iowa for nearly a decade. Mallory currently serves as the Director of Kirkwood Community College TRIO Student Support Services - ESL Program. The program provides culturally-specific academic support, social engagement, and career planning for first and second-generation immigrant students who are the first in their families to attend college, low income, or have a documented disability.

Rocio Lopez Riveros is currently a sophomore at Kirkwood Community College studying sociology. Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, she is now living in Coralville, Iowa. As a work study student at TRIO, Rocio works closely alongside other TRIO students with the goal of making connections and spreading information about the program and its resources. For her future, she plans to transfer to the University of Iowa and pursue a career involving student support services.

Dr. Anne Kiche is adjunct assistant professor in the Global Health Studies Program at The University of Iowa and an adjunct instructor in English Language Acquisition (ELA) at Kirkwood Community College. Her teaching interests include education, immigrant and refugee health, and the connections among migration, diversity, and pandemics on both the physical and mental health of populations. She is the chair of the African Communities Network of Iowa and will be the diversity co-chair of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) in Linn and Johnson counties starting July 1st, 2022.

Vinh Nguyen recently retired from Des Moines Public Schools after thirty-four years of service. He is now Refugee Education Coordinator at Lutheran Services in Iowa. As a former refugee, one of the Boat People from Vietnam, he found many difficulties and challenges in adjusting to his new life in 1980s America. With no English language skills, he struggled to communicate and often relied on others to interpret and to help find jobs. He was the recipient of the Passport to Prosperity Award from the Iowa Council for International Understanding in 2004. He is very active in Des Moines's language minority communities and currently serves as the president of the Vietnamese American Community in Iowa. He serves as a storyteller, speaker, and consultant for topics related to Vietnam, Southeast Asia, refugee and immigrant issues, the refugee resettlement process, and second language acquisition.

For more information on the Foreign Relations Council visit their website at www.icfrc.org.

Related Programs

thumbnail of video

ICFRC: Not a Place in Between, Ukraine is Real! - Several Facts About Ukrainian History and Culture
Recorded: September 13, 2022
Runtime: 01:00:25

thumbnail of video

ICFRC: Welcoming and Supporting Refugees and Immigrants - Making the Case for an Intentionally Inclusive Iowa
Recorded: September 7, 2022
Runtime: 00:59:56

thumbnail of video

ICFRC: Refugees and Immigrants - How Their Stories and Experiences Inform Public Policy
Recorded: May 4, 2022
Runtime: 01:33:07

thumbnail of video

ICFRC: The Authorization for Use of Military Force and U.S. Forever Wars
Recorded: April 26, 2022
Runtime: 00:55:07

thumbnail of video

ICFRC: Challenges to an Equitable Net Zero Carbon Transition
Recorded: April 21, 2022
Runtime: 00:58:03

thumbnail of video

ICFRC: Writing and Reading About the Refugee and Immigrant Experience
Recorded: April 13, 2022
Runtime: 01:33:58

thumbnail of video

ICFRC: The Innovator's Dilemma - Bitcoin in El Salvador
Recorded: April 5, 2022
Runtime: 00:59:57

thumbnail of video

ICFRC: Can Social Science Solve Corruption?
Recorded: April 1, 2022
Runtime: 00:42:11

thumbnail of video

ICFRC: Food, Gender, and the Challenges Ahead
Recorded: March 8, 2022
Runtime: 00:51:51