Carolyn Colvin
2021 First-Gen at Iowa Award Recipient

Award for Outstanding First-Generation Student Advocacy

Carolyn Colvin is an Associate Professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning in the College of Education at the University of Iowa. In an ironic narrative, Carolyn was teaching at San Diego State University and learned of West Liberty, Iowa by watching NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw.  Standing in the middle of West Liberty’s sunny Main Street, Brokaw described this rural midwestern community as home to immigrant residents for 75+ years.  With a job offer at Iowa, Colvin traveled to West Liberty and a relationship was formed. Since 1993, she has directed an adult tutoring program for immigrant adults seeking to learn English. Often the adults brought their children to English class so over the years, Thursday evening classes became a family affair. In 2012, in a partnership with the West Liberty School District and supported by University funding, Colvin began collaborating with the UI Center for Diversity and Enrichment and family members of the WL immigrant community to recruit first-gen/students of color to the university. In the 13 years of the mentoring program, she estimates that 300+ West Liberty students have enrolled at the University of Iowa. This is a tribute to the talented students from West Liberty, terrific support from CDE, including TRIO, and faculty/staff who generously welcome these students to campus. Carolyn remains dedicated to recruiting West Liberty students to become teachers! 

Click here to read more about these annual awards.