Kirkwood Program Helps Unlikely College Students Succeed

By Heather Hubbs, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - If you've ever thought about going to college but worry you don't have the money or skills to be successful, Kirkwood has a program that can help.

The college is now accepting applications for Kirkwood Pathways for Academic Career Education and Employment, or KPACE. It's designed for those who dropped out of high school, haven't been in school for a while, or are low income and can't afford tuition.

About 130 students have gone through the KPACE program over the last two years. What started as a pilot program on the campus has been so successful, the Iowa Legislature made it a statewide program and provides state funding for it.

Heather Rudnicki, who started KPACE last summer, says it has been life changing. The single mother of two was working at a call center. Unhappy with her $12 an hour job, she wanted a better life for her children. But having dropped out of high school at 17, it had been almost 14 years since she'd set foot in a classroom.

With the help of KPACE she was able to get her high school diploma, and a certification in office assistance, she's now going to Kirkwood full time.

Rudnicki knows that without KPACE, her life would be very different.

"I think I'd still be working a $12 an hour job and I wouldn't be as satisfied as I am now," she said. "I believe in Kirkwood, I believe in the program, and it's going to help a lot of people."

KPACE takes about four months to complete. Once students complete the program, they go on to work toward a two year degree. It provides academic, social, and financial assistance along the way.

If you are interested in taking part in the KPACE program, call 319-784-1518.
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